Lady Spikers stay unbeaten

Rookie Angel Canino bounces back from a two-point outing in the opening frame with an avalanche of hits in the next three to lead La Salle to a 22-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-19 win over Adamson University in their UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament match. La Salle remains unbeaten in six games. Photo courtesy of UAAP

De La Salle University relied on its vaunted frontline defense to come back from a set down to beat Adamson University, 22-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-19, and remain unscathed in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Twin towers Fifi Sharma and Thea Gagate did most of the damage at the net as the Lady Spikers tallied a season-high 16 kill blocks in their sixth straight win in as many games while snapping the Lady Falcons’ three-game winning streak.

The huge victory over one of the top Final Four contenders has built high morale and the much-needed momentum for La Salle heading into its clash against defending champion National University in a rematch of last season’s championship to close the first round at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.

Super rookie Angel Canino, who just recovered from an illness, had a rough start in the opening set but was quick to recover her bearings to finish with 21 points with all but one coming off attacks for the Lady Spikers.

Canino, who has been posing a threat on Lady Bulldogs hitter Bella Belen’s back-to-back Most Valuable Player run, tallied 13 excellent receptions and 10 digs for La Salle.

“We had a shaky start in the first set. Angel was groping for form after missing a few training sessions to rest after getting under the weather,” Lady Spikers head coach Noel Orcullo said.

“I just reminded her after the first set to bounce back because we need her. Fortunately, she responded.”

But while Canino was adjusting, Sharma and Gagate held the frontline to frustrate the attackers of Adamson especially its high-scoring and power-hitting freshman Trisha Tubu, who had to bleed for her 13 points in a hellish 12-of-51 spiking clip.

Sharma posted a personal-best six kill blocks to finish with 12 points while Gagate had five swat points to go with 11 spikes for 16 points for La Salle’s best start in nine years after also going 6-0 in Season 77.

Jolina dela Cruz scored 10 points while Baby Jyne Soreno, who came off the bench, added nine for the Lady Spikers.

La Salle broke away from a close fourth set with an 8-2 run for a 19-12 lead following Canino’s crosscourt hit. Adamson never came closer than five in the ensuing plays with Aprylle Tagsip scoring a hit to cut its deficit to 23-18.

But Tagsip committed a net touch and La Salle was called for an error in the next play before Soreno iced the match with an off speed.

Kate Santiago finished with 12 points, 15 digs and 10 excellent receptions for the Lady Falcons.

Lucille Almonte got nine points and 10 perfect receptions while league-leading setter Louie Romero only had 13 excellent sets in a lost cause.

In men’s play, the Green Spikers kept the Falcons winless with a 25-21, 25-18, 25-20, demolition earlier in the day.

Noel Kampton had 15 points, while John Mark Ronquillo and Billie Anima added 14 and 11 points, respectively, as La Salle rediscovered its winning ways for a 4-2 record.

Adamson drops to a 0-6 slate.

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