Last Sunday hardly looked like the battle of the league’s number two team, the DLSU Lady Spikers, against the number three in the win-loss record, the NU Lady Bulldogs, as the defending UAAP champions continued their winning ways in the second round with a 25-21, 25-11, 15-25, 25-12 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Save for the third set where La Salle committed a head-scratching 14 unforced errors and yielded the set, 15-25, DLSU flexed its muscles on the defensive end all game long with nine blocks and loaded on their serves, outscoring NU 12-3. Key to the Lady Spikers’ season sweep of the Lady Bulldogs was again limiting NU star and team captain Jaja Santiago as the 6-5 middle hitter barely made her mark with a nine-point outing and only six attack points.
Similar to last Wednesday’s impressive 25-5 first set destruction of the FEU Lady Tamaraws (after losing previously to Ateneo), it seems like these batch of Lady Spikers prefer to figuratively get punched first before loading up and answering with their own haymaker. Smarting from the dropping the third set, DLSU raced to a 8-1 lead in the fourth set and never looked back to improve to 7-2 in Season 79.
Season 78 Finals MVP Kim Keanna Dy and Majoy Baron finished in double figures with 17 and 15, respectively, while sophomore May Luna (five points), with her booming jump serves and deadly hits, continued her climb back to finding her form.
Next play mentality
If there’s one thing you can count on the Lady Spikers, it’s their remarkable mindset to make up an error or a lost point on the next play. When Majoy failed to cleanly hit the first quick set given to her by Kim Fajardo on the game’s first play, the latter once again called her middle blocker’s number on the next play and was rewarded with a convincing hit.
From this year’s UP setback and bounce back win against NU in the first round, to the 25-5, 25-23, 25-23 second round demolition job against the FEU Lady Tamaraws after losing their previous match against the Lady Eagles, these Lady Spikers love to play with chips on their shoulders. They may lose a point, set, or game, but their “next play/point mentality” will be beneficial for the defending champions on their quest for back-to-back titles.
Rotation of death
The formation where KKD, Baron and Tin Tiamson or May Luna occupy the front row (zones two to four), libero Dawn Macandili and the defensive whiz Desiree Cheng cover the back, and team captain Kim Fajardo orchestrates the offense is really something to watch. The three players in front form the great Green Wall, blocking, or at least minimizing, every attack attempt from the team’s attackers while Dawn and Des make sure that the ball will always find its way off the floor.
On offense, Fajardo has the luxury of choosing which Lady Spiker to give the ball to; keeping not only the team on the other side guessing but also the surprising the fans with her choice of spiker.
After a two-game week, La Salle has a week to prepare for the sliding UP Lady Maroons. A matchup that, for sure, the Taft-based squad has been salivating since the second round schedule came out. The 22-25, 21-25, 19-25 straight-sets loss last February 15 left a bad taste in the mouths of the Lady Spikers and head coach Ramil de Jesus; with seven days between games, DLSU should look sharp physically and mentally to exact revenge on the Lady Maroons.
Animo La Salle!