MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle Lady Spikers had to dig deep and come up with clutch hits before winding up with hard-fought victory over rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 75 women's volleyball finals last Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Spikers, the two-time defending champions, were on the brink of defeat as they went down two sets to none, but staged a massive comeback and won in five sets, 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 15-6.
Michele Gumabao, who was instrumental in La Salle's rally and finished with 15 points, admitted they were intimidated by the Ateneans and the huge Araneta crowd at the start of the game.
"Nawala kami noong first two sets. Na-intimidate kami sa kalaban at sa crowd," said Gumabao, referring to the more than 17,000 fans who turned up to watch Game 1.
"Pero 'yun nga, binalik namin 'yung sarili namin. We all worked as a team and we all worked individually para maka-contribute to all the points," she added.
Gumabao noted that Game 1 was similar to their first-round encounter against the Lady Eagles, wherein they also fell behind by two sets early but still came up with the win.
"Nahirapan kami with the first two sets. Talagang na-challenge 'yung skills namin, 'yung puso namin. Nilabas talaga ni God 'yung gustong makit ng mga tao from the La Salle team," she said.
In the end, it was their championship pride and experience that powered them, said Gumabao.
"Tiwala lang (kami) sa bawat isa. Alam namin na kami 'yung defending champion, kami 'yung back-to-back champion. At alam namin na bawat teammate namin, kaya nila pag-perform, kaya naming gumalaw," she said.
Gumabao and the Lady Spikers have a chance to clinch their third straight UAAP women’s volleyball title on Game 2, scheduled for Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.