La Salle gets dragged to the limit by gritty NU before drawing first blood in UAAP Finals – rezal404

Angel Canino and the La Salle Lady Spikers during Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball finals.  UAAP PHOTO

Angel Canino and the La Salle Lady Spikers during Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball finals. UAAP PHOTO

Angel Canino went down on her knees after La Salle won the final point of Game 1 of the Season 85 UAAP women’s volleyball finals, letting out all the pressure that the title series with old tormentor National University has brought leading up to Sunday.

“This one’s [steeped in emotions]. Every day, we’ve made winning in the Finals our goal, Canino said after spearheading the Lady Archers to an 18-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21,15-13 thriller before close to 11,000 feet-stomping , boisterous fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

“Finally, we won one, but we won’t stop because there’s still a next game.”

That next game is the potential clincher, something which will pack more emotion on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, especially after the Lady Bulldogs managed to win two sets this time.

La Salle conquered National U two straight games in the elimination round without dropping a set. The Lady Spikers got more than they bargained for in the series opener, with Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon forming a terrific 1-2 punch.

“As Angel said, this is just Game 1. This is not over,” said assistant coach Noel Orcullo.

The series has been hyped pretty much as Canino vs Belen and the two didn’t disappoint as the La Salle ace finished with 21 points and Belen 22 for the Lady Bulldogs.

Gagate steps up

Thea Gagate was the big difference on both ends for the Lady Spikers.  —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Thea Gagate was the big difference on both ends for the Lady Spikers. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

What kept this one close was the efforts of Solomon, who erupted for 28 points after being held to just eight points in each of those two elimination round losses.

Thea Gagate stepped up on both ends to help La Salle immensely, as this group of Lady Spikers who have no championship experience at all is on the verge of claiming the 12th title for the school.

La Salle was swept by National U on this stage last year, but the Lady Spikers played with unwavering grit this time to push the Lady Bulldogs hard against the wall.

Sheena Toring was stretched out of the floor after a feared left ACL injury in a freak accident in a net play. Fans from both schools cheered the National U standout while medical personnel carried her out.

Earlier, University of Santo Tomas made light work of Far Eastern University, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21, to reach the men’s championship series for the first time in 11 years.

GBoy de Vega led the Golden Spikers’ attack with 16 points spiked with a pair of aces, while Most Valuable Player Josh Ybañez chipped in 15 more that went with 13 receptions and three digs.

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