UAAP volleyball: La Salle ousts Ateneo, sets up Finals showdown vs NU

La Salle Lady Spikers are off to the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball finals. –UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–La Salle encountered a late third-quarter jolt before shutting down Ateneo, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, late Thursday to barge into the championship of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Lady Spikers will face unbeaten finalist National University in the best-of-three series beginning on Saturday.

But it was not without a hitch as Ateneo relied on Faith Nisperos to lead a late-match charge bringing the Blue Eagles from 21-14 to 22-19 on her four straight points.

Then Erika Raagas took the cudgels helping Ateneo to breathe to La Salle’s neck at 23-22 and erase one match point for 24-23.

In the end, it was the well-oiled system of the Lady Spikers that prevailed as Thea Gagate and Leiah Malaluan next scored to preserve their first finals appearance in four seasons.

Malaluan finished with 16 points, while Gagate and Jolina Dela Cruz added 13 points each for the Lady Spikers. Nisperos ended with 19 markers for the fallen defending champions.

La Salle didn’t waste time in imposing its might, rallying from a 7-10 deficit to take the lead at 12-11 on back-to-back aces by Dela Cruz. There was no looking back in the set once Aleiah Malaluan found her mark and Thea Gagate closed down the air space for the Blue Eagles.

The Lady Spikers scored four on kill-blocks while committing less errors in the opening frame, 8-3, as they showed fruits of a long break the Blue Eagles didn’t get.

The momentum spilled over to the second set as every Lady Spiker played their roles well in the La Salle system. Gagate slammed for a 21-18 lead which fuelled their end-set drive.

Ateneo top gunner Nisperos fired to close in at 22-20. But there was no other Blue Eagle willing or able to step up unlike La Salle’s Julia Coronel whose ace put the Lady Spikers to set-point in the second frame.

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