Cyd Demecillo and Kim Fajardo celebrate La Salle's breakthrough UAAP beach volleyball title. Photo by Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports
MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle University pair of Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo downed Far Eastern University's (FEU) Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza to claim the UAAP Season 78 women's beach volleyball championship Wednesday at the Sands SM By The Bay.
It was the first-ever women's championship for the Lady Spikers, who needed three sets to overcome the Lady Tamaraws in the Finals opener, 21-17, 16-21, and 15-12, before nailing a two-set win in Game 2, 21-16, 25-23, to wrap up a tremendous season.
La Salle defeated Ateneo de Manila University in the do-or-die game in the Final Four, 20-22, 21-14, and 16-14, to deny Alyssa Valdez a beach volleyball title in her final UAAP year.
(READ: "Kapag athlete ka ang pinakamalakas na muscle na kailangan mo ay puso," - DLSU's Kim Fajardo on playing through cramps)
Their two wins over FEU in the Finals capped an improbable run to the title, which saw La Salle win nine of their last 10 matches to overcome a sorry start to the season.
"Noong nag-umpisa kami ng 0-2, sinabi ko kay Cyd na La Salle tayo, hindi tayo dapat ganito," said Fajardo, who was also making her swan song in the sand court. "Kailangan, may patunayan tayo. Kailangan may paghugutan tayo ng lakas ng loob."
"Last ko na ito, kaya kailangang manalo. 'Yun ang inspiration ko," she also said.
The Lady Tamaraws were on the verge of extending Game 2 to a third and deciding set, but Demecillo and Fajardo delivered key kills to frustrate Pons and Atienza in crunch time.
"We did not expect this," said Demecillo after La Salle finally won the crown following several near-misses in the past few seasons. "Dinaan namin sa tiyaga, para makuha ang championship."
The Lady Tamaraws were arguably the more favored team in the Finals, having topped the elimination round with a 6-1 win-loss record and then ousting fourth-seeded Adamson University in the Final Four.
But they ran into a La Salle squad that peaked at the right time after overcoming Ateneo's Valdez and Bea Tan in a Final Four series that went three games.