La Salle gunner Des Cheng spikes to the other side, away from the towering defense of Izabela Wong of Ateneo in the first showdown of the league’s fancied teams yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Jun Mendoza
Lady Archers twit Eagles in opener
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The most dominant women’s volleyball team in the UAAP hasn’t missed a beat despite losing key players from last year.

Minus former starters Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili, La Salle still came through big as it disposed of arch rival Ateneo, 25-14, 25-17 16-25, 25-19, yesterday to set in motion its four-peat bid in the 81st UAAP volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena in Pasay.

Skipper Des Cheng, a remnant from last year’s three-peat squad, paced La Salle with 13 points including a service ace that finished off Ateneo’s comeback bid in the fourth set.

May Luna, Jolina dela Cruz and Aduke Christine Ogunsaya did well in filling the vacuum left by their former seniors and chipped in 11, 11 and 10 hits, respectively, while Michelle Cobb had a virtuoso performance with 29 excellent sets while chipping in eight points she highlighted with four service aces.

“It wasn’t an easy win, the situation just favored us because they (Ateneo) succumbed to pressure early and we used it to our advantage,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus, who is seeking to steer his team to a fourth straight championship and seventh of the last nine seasons.

Earlier, super rookie Eya Laure was good as advertised as she powered Santo Tomas to a 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 24-26, 15-6 victory over a gritty Adamson side to jumpstart its campaign.

In her much-anticipated debut, Laure unloaded 17 points including 13 on kills and three on blocks, and helped Sisi Rondina, who also fired 17, avert a collapse and claim a first win for the Tigresses.

“We had a great start but we made poor decisions in the third and fourth sets,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes in Filipino. “But what is important was how we came back and responded in the fifth set, it was really a test of character for us.”

Last year’s Rookie of the Year Minela Alessandrini chipped in 15 points while another neophyte Kecelyn Galdones had a solid debut with eight hits.

UST appeared in control early on as it took the first two sets and was leading 19-16 in the third set.

But the Lady Falcons fought their way back and stole the third set and then went to Eli Soyud with the fourth set knotted at 24-all to snare the set and force a decider.

It proved Adamson’s last show of resistance as UST went to Laure and its nearly impenetrable net defense to claim the set and the win.

In men’s action, Ateneo drew strength from the return of Antony Koyfman as it destroyed La Salle, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.

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