Manila Doctors Hospital
May 1, 2016
On Saturday, La Salle brought down archrival Ateneo, 19-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16, to snare the UAAP women’s volleyball title before a sea of green and blue at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
It was a fitting ending to what had been an epic season as a screaming crowd of 22,848 watched two of the league’s best teams fight it out to the end. Of course, after all the smoke of battle dissipated, only one remained standing. And La Salle ended up the triumphant one, bringing down the once mighty champion in Ateneo.
The epic finals series added another chapter to what has been a legendary rivalry between the two traditional foes. For the record, it was their fifth straight title duel with La Salle winning the first two in 2012 and 2013 and Ateneo the next two in 2014 and 2015. And then the Lady Archers reigned supreme this year to break the tie.
It was also La Salle’s ninth UAAP crown, the third highest behind only Far Eastern U (29) and Santo Tomas (14).
And I have several thoughts:
1. Little that everyone know, La Salle put a salt at the corner of the door outside their dugout leading to the coliseum lobby as a lucky charm. It was done to send away bad spirits and vibes. Nothing wrong with being superstitious, I guess.
2. Alyssa Valdez, one of the most charismatic and popular players in the country today, bid the UAAP goodbye with her last game. In her five years, she won three MVP trophy and help the Lady Eagles make the finals five straight seasons and win their first two women’s volley championships. She will be missed.
3. There were so many players from both teams who also played their last game including La Salle’s Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, Cyd Demecillo, Maria Esperanza and Carol Ann Cerveza and Ateneo’s Amy Ahomiro and Mae Tajima. Parting is such sweet sorrow indeed.
4. Kim Dy drew a lot of praise from Valdez for winning the Finals MVP, saying the third-year player should be a star next year, if she hasn’t become already.
5. We overheard Ateneo’s Bea de Leon before Dy’s name was named Finals MVP that it should be Dy that should win it. De Leon was correct. Wait, is she related to Madam Auring?
6. Some experts, including Sportsmaryosep, made a case for Kim Fajardo as Finals MVP having dished out 51 excellent sets and added 11 digs and six points. But hey, the league had decided already so congrats to Dy, who was just an unstoppable force in this finals.
7. Speaking of Fajardo, we asked her directly if she’s returning for her fifth and final season next year. She said she hasn’t thouight of it yet. But we heard word, including our resident expert Benggadora, that she may not comeback. You know what we think? Well, that’s another story.
8. Back to Valdez. Sources revealed to us that she will play in the Shakey’s V-League’s season-opening conference unfolding on May 15. It is not yet known what team she’ll play. She’ll also looking to play abroad after the V-League. Her potential destination includes Maldives, Indonesia and Thailand.
9. No disrespect to Ateneo coach Tai Bundit but we think the victory of La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus is also a victory for local coaches. He showed that Filipinos are equally capable of winning championships just like anyone else. So kudos to coach Ramil.
10. We ran into Ateneo men’s coach Oliver Almandro and he personally congratulated de Jesus, his mentor. For the unitiated, Almandro served as an assistant to de Jesus for a decade when La Salle made it to the finals nine times and won four titles along the way. Almandro then went on to steer Ateneo’s men’s team to its first two UAAP championships.
What are your thoughts?
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of Joey Mendoza of The Philippine STAR)