UAAP: La Salle reasserts mastery over rival Ateneo

Angel Canino. UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines-Shooting down the Ateneo Blue Eagles has become a force of habit for the De La Salle Lady Spikers.

Rookie Angel Canino showed maturity beyond her years in leading the Lady Spikers to victory over their arch nemesis on Sunday, 25-16, 25-20, 25-13, at the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.

Canino impressively attacked the Ateneo defense 21 times and finished with 23 points, eight of them coming in the opening frame where the Lady Spikers completely dominated their rivals.

Jolina Dela Cruz contributed 13 points with 10 kills and Thea Gagate asserted her length at the net with 10 points as La Salle stretched its unbeaten run to three to claim the solo leadership.

“We all deserve the win. All of us contributed and I’m very proud of our team. I don’t count my points. My goal is to contribute and do the right things out there on the floor,” said Canino, La Salle’s hero for the third consecutive match who likewise lit up the stats sheet with nine digs, one block and an ace.

The Lady Spikers have yet to lose against the Blue Eagles in their last 11 meetings since Season 79 back in 2017 with Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro absorbing the last seven setbacks.

“We’re not looking at the (win-loss) record. We just stick to the system and do it one game at a time,” said La Salle interim coach Noel Ocullo.

Starting out strong before a sea of blue and green at the Mall of Asia Arena, the Lady Spikers hardly gave the Lady Blue Eagles room to operate with Canino, Dela Cruz and Mereophe Sharma picking the right spots in assaulting them.

Faith Nisperos pulled Ateneo within five, but miscues hounded them before Dela Cruz’s crosscourt spike closed out the first set.

Canino and Gagate again set the tone for another set victory, quickly rushing to a five-point advantage on a variety of strikes and sustaining the offensive with an efficient, merciless foray on enemy territory.

Errors allowed the Blue Eagles to claw back and make a fight out of it, but Sharma, Dela Cruz and Gagate put order on the La Salle floor.

Nisperos cut it to 24-20 with a spike that got blocked by Gagate before hitting the antennae, but a service blunder by Ateneo’s Cruz hastened their downfall.

La Salle’s tact hardly altered in the final set where the Lady Spikers easily built an eight-point spread and simply went through the motions of sweeping their rivals.

Nisperos finished with 11 points and had 11 digs for the Blue Eagles, who got shot down for the second time in three games.

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