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La Salle takes UAAP women's volleyball title back from Ateneo

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--La Salle ended three years of wait for another UAAP women's volleyball title as they repulsed erstwhile champions Ateneo, 19-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16, in the last game of the best-of-three finals in front of 22,848 people at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday night.

The Lady Spikers, who last won the championship in 2013, turned the tides late in the third set after opening a nine-point lead and continued the onslaught in the fourth to capture their ninth title overall.

After conceding the first set, La Salle raced to a 16-10 lead in the second, but Ateneo crawled back and forced a 19-all deadlock.

Graduating players Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, and Ara Galang joined forces in closing out the period for the Lady Spikers even as Majoy Baron provided help with a huge block on Alyssa Valdez's spike.

La Salle then broke out of a close Set 3 through an 8-3 run to lead by eight, 20-12, as errors began to pile up for Ateneo while Valdez's attacks were continually marked.

Mae Tajima tried to inject life for the Lady Eagles by scoring a spike and an ace consecutively, but the Lady Spikers banked on more opponents' errors to secure the Set 3 win.

La Salle then opened a 12-point lead in Set 4 behind Baron's blocking prowess and attacks from Galang, Reyes, Demecillo, and Kim Dy and never looked back.

Dy, who was named the Finals MVP, finished with 17 points on 16 spikes and one block, while Baron, who was hailed as the best blocker of the tournament on Wednesday, had five swats along with three spikes and three aces to end up with 11 markers for the Lady Spikers.

Demecillo, Galang, and Reyes ended their stellar UAAP careers with nine points each. Galang earned all of her markers off spikes, while Reyes got three blocks and Demecillo scored two aces.

In her own swan song, Valdez tallied 31 markers for the Lady Eagles, who failed to win a third straight title.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno