La Salle completes comeback vs NU, clinches title in 5-set marathon

Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2023 07:31 PM | Updated as of May 14 2023 09:28 PM

The De La Salle Lady Spikers celebrate after clinching the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball championship. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.
The De La Salle Lady Spikers celebrate after clinching the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball championship. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA -- The crown is back in Taft. 

The De La Salle Lady Spikers ended their five-year title drought in UAAP women's volleyball after pulling off a massive comeback win against the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in Game 2 of the Finals. 

The Lady Spikers bucked a 0-2 deficit in the match as they recovered in the succeeding sets to finally close the series, 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10, at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday.

This is the first time La Salle will lift the championship trophy since Season 80 -- and their 12th overall title in league's history. 

Season MVP Angel Canino tallied 19 points on 12 attacks, six aces, and a block while Thea Gagate added 17 points highlighted by five blocks to power the Lady Spikers to the crown in front of a massive crowd of 20,514 fans at the Pasay venue.

But it was Mars Alba who took home the Finals MVP honors after tallying 16 excellent sets aside from three points.

“After five years na wala kaming, hindi kami nag-champion, yun nga, naudlot yung four-peat. Eto nakabalik na naman. Sa napaka-hirap na paraan, pero napakasarap na pakiramdam. So yun nga, nakuha sa tyaga, yun nga yung lagi namin sinasabi sa mga bata wag tayong magsasawa magtyaga at makukuha din yan, ito nga, champion na naman,” assistant coach Noel Orcullo said after the title run. 

Down 0-2, La Salle regrouped just in time for the third frame as they built a 19-14 separation off a down-the-line kill of Canino. 

A back-to-back quick kill of Fifi Sharma made it a 23-14 cushion en route to a 25-15 win in the third. 

It was all La Salle in the fourth set as they created an early gap anew as Maicah Larroza scored an ace, 9-4. NU committed a series of errors midway of the set followed by Gagate onslaught for a 15-8 advantage.

The first best middle blocker continued to make her presence felt down the stretch before Canino registered an ace, 24-16.

With momentum on their side, the Lady Spikers stepped on the gas pedal for a 5-1 start but the Lady Bulldogs rallied back with Solomon leading the charge, equalizing the game at 7-all.

From a 10-9 slim lead, Gagate sparked her own 3-0 run with an attack and two solid rejections to create a 13-9 breather – and they never looked back. Gagate ended the season with an emphatic quick hit. 

Alyssa Solomon tried to tow the Lady Bulldogs with game-high 34 big points built on 31 attacks and three blocks while Bella Belen was limited to just 11 points five sets. 

UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.