By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers are back at the top of the UAAP Women’s volleyball after dethroning the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in a come-from-behind effort, 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10, after a thrilling Game 2 Season 85 grand finals last May 14, 2023, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Down two sets to none after an Alyssa Solomon offensive frenzy for the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Spikers maintained their poise and never rattled to clinch a reverse sweep for their 12th UAAP championship title.
It was a frantic start for the Lady Spikers after their signature middle blocking failed to work against the rejuvenated NU attack led by Solomon who was just unstoppable to help the Lady Bulldogs take a 2-0 lead.
However, DLSU head coach Ramil de Jesus dug deep into her bench and deployed Maicah Larroza, also one of the products of the prestigious NU high school volleyball program.
Coach de Jesus then seemed to find the perfect spark plug for the Lady Spikers as the crafty outside spiker provided the lift that DLSU needed.
Aside from her much-needed offense, Larroza also filled up the stat sheet with her efficient blocking and tremendous floor defense coverage.
Down 8-9 in the crucial third set, Larroza entered the scoring column after finding an open hole in NU’s backline.
Larroza’s energy plays then helped the Lady Spikers get into the match after equalizing the affair to force a fifth and deciding set.
DLSU went off to an excellent start in the fifth set after tallying two quick block scores but NU came back after another Solomon surge.
With NU still within striking distance after a Solomon hit that trimmed DLSU’s lead to just a point, 8-7, Angel Canino and the rest of the Lady Spikers then went for the kill and ended the deciding set with a 7-2 run.
“Tyinaga ng mga bata. Kahit pa sabihing 5 sets, mas masarap manalo nang pinaghirapan mo,” said interim head coach Noel Orcullo after the win.
Canino led DLSU’s epic comeback with 19 points, six service aces, and a block while Thea Gagate added 117 points built from 12 attacks and five blocks.