National University and De La Salle University rekindle their rivalry after forging a title showdown in the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship.
The powerhouse squads completed the dream championship match following contrasting victories in their respective semifinal games Friday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Thea Gagate had a monster game and the Lady Spikers veterans delivered at crunch time to essay a 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-8, victory over Adamson University for the right to face the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs for all the marbles.
Gagate uncorked 27 points to lead La Salle, which pulled through after igniting a decisive run midway through the fifth set to turn back its second round tormentor.
NU, on the other hand, needed only four sets to beat University of Santo Tomas, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, in the other semis pairing to move a win away from adding another crown to its collection after ruling University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 84.
The Lady Bulldogs went undefeated in its UAAP championship run last June, completing their perfect season with a best-of-three series sweep of the Lady Spikers last June.
“I’m very excited to again face NU (in the championship). Of course, we will work hard to get back at them after what happened in the UAAP,” Gagate, who hammered 18 attacks, tallied five kill blocks and landed four aces, said.
The third year middle ignited the Lady Spikers’ fifth set fightback after the Lady Falcons opened the deciding frame with three straight points following a strong fourth set finish.
Gagate put the Lady Spikers on the scoreboard with a quick kill that sparked a 9-2 rally capped by a Baby Jyne Soreno ace for a 9-5 lead as momentum swung in La Salle’s favor.
Another four-point spurt put the Lady Spikers up, 13-7, before Rizza Cruz stopped Adamson’s bleeding with a kill.
Alleiah Malaluan pushed La Salle at match point with an off the block kill before Cruz sent her attack long that ended the gripping two-hour, 13-minute match.
Rookie Angel Canino got 20 points including 17 attacks while Malaluan scored all but one of her 12 markers on spikes for the Lady Spikers.
Adamson, which got 15 points from Kate Santiago, 12 from Cruz and 11 each from Lorene Toring and Antonette Adolfo, will face the Tigresses in the battle for bronze.