La Salle makes quick work of Ateneo in UAAP women’s volleyball

Thea Gagate La Salle Lady Spikers UAAP Season 86 volleyball

La Salle Lady Spikers’ Thea Gagate in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.–UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–La Salle would have none of the publicized epic rivalry with Ateneo after the defending champions dumped their arch nemesis, 25-12, 25-12, 25-18, as quickly as possible on Sunday night in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

The Lady Spikers were simply all business at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, preferring to get the Blue Eagles out of the way swiftly in a straight-set victory that further heated up the scenario at the top of the standings.

Thea Gagate battered Ateneo with an assortment of hits, tallying 16 points for a 71-percent attacking efficiency on top of six blocks while Shevana Laput likewise imposed herself in the middle with accurate strikes.

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 volleyball second round

With their 11th win of the season, the Lady Spikers forced a three-way tie with co-leaders National University and University of Santo Tomas after 13 games.

It will all come to a head on Saturday when La Salle and UST wrap up the elimination phase after the NU-Far Eastern University showdown on Wednesday.

“We played a well-polished game. There were lapses in the third set, but we were able to recover. Hopefully, we can maintain the performance against UST,” said La Salle coach Noel Orcullo.

The two leading teams from among the Lady Spikers, the Tigresses and the Lady Bulldogs after the 14-game preliminaries earn a crucial twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.

READ: UAAP: Laput, Coronel leading La Salle charge amid tough times

“It (twice-to-beat advantage) won’t be given to us. We have to earn it by focusing on every point and staying in the system come Saturday,” said Gagate.

The first two sets appeared dim for the Blue Eagles and that hardly changed in the last and final frame despite fighting neck and neck early on.

Laput unloaded a back-row hit and Gagate found a vacant spot down the middle for an 11-7 La Salle advantage.

The Blue Eagles attempted a comeback with Yssa Nisperos and AC Miner showing the way only to get frustrated by Laput at the net.

Laput successfully deflected Ateneo’s attack twice after an off-the-block strike and the Lady Spikers put themselves in a position to again grab the set.

Gagate’s block on Nisperos, who overcooked her spike in the ensuing play brought La Salle closer to match point before Laput’s push to a gaping hole closed it out for good.

Angel Canino sat her fifth game in a row due to an injured arm. Last year’s rookie-MVP hammered a variety of spikes during the Lady Spikers’ pre-game warmup, but wasn’t fielded.

“The progress of her recovery is good. Hopefully, she could return either against UST or in the semifinals,” said Orcollo.

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The Blue Eagles fell to their ninth defeat in 13 games and can solidify a fifth-place finish in their final game of the season opposite the Adamson Lady Falcons on Wednesday.