MANILA, Philippines – La Salle flaunted its fiery form in beating Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16, for a "three-peat" that put the finishing touches to a stellar campaign in the well-attended UAAP Season 75 women's volleyball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mika Reyes stood at the forefront of the Lady Archers' stonewall defense, thwarting seven shots and outblocking the entire Lady Eagles team (four blocks total), while co-MVPs Abi Maraño and Ara Galang dished out solid efforts to lead DLSU to a sweep of the best-of-three series before a crowd of 18,779 . La Salle ground out a tough 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6 in Game One.
"This is sweet because this is the fruit of the labor of the girls, they worked hard for this," said triumphant coach Ramil de Jesus, who notched his 190th win in the league, achieved his second three-peat (Seasons 66-69) and raised his trophy collection to eight overall.
"It's also sweet because this is a great exit for our seniors (Melissa) Gohing and (Wensh) Tiu," he added.
Gohing, DLSU's libero, helped significantly with her non-scoring skill, chalking up 17 digs with eight good receptions. She capped her UAAP stint with four championships in five finals appearances, enough reason to make her shed tears after playing her last game.
Reyes punched in 16 points, her exploits most noted in the second set in which she scored six in leading the Lady Archers' fightback from a 13-17 deficit to steal the set.
"I saw their heart in the second set and from then on, I knew, we can win this," said de Jesus, citing his wards' "court IQ."
Maraño and Galang, who finished with 12 points apiece, took over in the third set as DLSU imposed its will to deliver the coup de grace.
La Salle's blocking made life miserable for Ateneo, their 17th block securing the championship point.
De Jesus raised his two arms in triumph, the Lady Eagles struck an "archer's pose" as white confetti fell. Godfather Mikee Romero congratulated the team, promising a trip to Hong Kong as reward.
"We conditioned our minds to believe that we can be champions again," said Finals MVP Michelle Gumabao.
Best Scorer Alyssa Valdez made 14 points for Ateneo, which settled for a second straight runner-up honors and failed to give its "Fab 5" – Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, Gretchen Ho, A Nagachi, and Best Setter Jem Ferrer – a fitting valedictory.