Blocking and excellent floor defense has been the signature of La Salle teams in the two-decade long Ramil de Jesus era. Intimidating and demoralizing stops at the net from the Lady Spikers followed by darting looks to the fallen opponent have earned the team the monicker of the “Great/Green Taft Wall” while daring, almost carefree lunges on the floor, a few years ago by DLSU legend Melissa Gohing and now from “Ms. Everywhere” Dawn Macandili, are appreciated and applauded as much as every spike.
In yesterday’s 25-21, 25-22, 26-24 straight-sets win over the UP Lady Maroons however, the two-time defending UAAP champions leaned on a different kind of weapon, their service game, to not only gather momentum throughout parts of the match but also finish off their Diliman counterparts.
Facing set point at the third set, 21-24, team captain and reigning UAAP MVP Majoy Baron refused to yield the frame will a solid hit before second-year setter Michelle Cobb unleashed three straight points from the baseline to cap off her game-long brilliance. Cobb, last year’s understudy to Kim Fajardo and now in the spotlight as La Salle’s main conductor on offense, finished with 32 excellent sets on top of seven aces for a total of 10 points.
Two more aces in the third frame, the Lady Spikers’ sixth for clinching set, allowed the team to stay within striking distance even when facing deficits as large as 10-17, 13-19, and 19-23. The 16 total service aces doubled the team’s output on blocking (8), their usual source of points, and even eclipsed last game’s 10 point production.
Not unlike the great Kim Fajardo’s service game, Cobb’s is not the booming jump serve type a la May Luna nor has the velocity and ferocity of Season 79 Finals MVP Desiree Cheng. But the proper placing of the ball and targeting of the receiving player, combined with excellent and efficient technique, have made Cobb’s service aces a welcome addition for the Lady Spikers, last year’s best serving team.
Unlike in the first game versus the UST Golden Tigress where the team’s middle blockers did most of the heavy lifting, the trio of Cheng (10), Tin Tiamson (13), and Kim Kianna Dy (13) took turns to consistently punch through the UP defense.
Tiamson was especially effective in the first set as she delivered four straight points to give La Salle first blood at the Filoil Arena. It was the turn of Kim Dy in the second frame as the Season 78 Final MVP’s signature hits from the opposite end found their way through the Lady Maroon’s defense.
After tallying 35 digs and 19 receptions against hard-hitting Cherry Rondina and the UST last week, Macandili followed up with 17 excellent digs, mostly against the UP duo of Dianna Carlos and Isa Molde.
Toting a 2-0 win-loss record, the team aims to remain unscathed next week as they go up against the 1-1 FEU Lady Tamaraws on Wednesday, February 14 and the 2-0 NU Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, February 18, both at the Filoil Arena.
Animo La Salle!