By: Tony Lebron Atayde, Jr.
It was the first game of the Dream Finals! The venue was packed. Tension filled the air. The backdrop was either green or blue. This is collegiate women’s volleyball at its best.
The first set saw the Lady Eagles take control early. They looked poised and confident. The Lady Spikers were plagued by errors early and saw Ateneo take charge. The Lady Eagles won handily 25 – 21.
The 2nd set again saw the Ateneo side take early control. La Salle however was slowly getting into the groove. Led by Kim Fajardo, the Lady Spikers came back from a 22-17 deficit with pure heart and determination.
Both teams were tied at 24 when Ateneo took the lead at 25 -24 but DLSU hung in there and tied once again. ADMU would have 2 more set point opportunities but the Lady Spikers would not crumble.
With score tied at 27, Aduke Agunsanya put the ball over but Ateneo’s Bea de Leon hit it out of bounds. With La Salle up 28 – 27, Bea de Leon hit a strong spike that was blocked by Fajardo and Agunsanya. La Salle takes set 2. No dancing on the sidelines for the Ateneo coach.
The 3rd set was close until La Salle put a safe distance between them and their archrivals. The Lady Spikers were evidently more confident. With Cheng, Dy, Ogunsanya and Tiamzon finding their marks and La Salle having a more solid defense, the Lady Spikers won the 3rd set 25 – 22.
The 4th set again started close. Ateneo stepped up their game and led 18 to 15. Again La Salle dug deep and strung up 5 straight points which was fuelled by a beautiful net dunk by Kim Fajardo.
With DLSU leading 21 -19, Kim Fajardo once again made a brilliant play by pushing the ball over the entire Ateneo squad giving La Salle a 22 – 19 lead. With the score at 24 – 20 for DLSU. Kim Kianna Dy made an emphatic spike to end the game.
DLSU takes Game 1 in 4 sets, 21-25, 29-27, 25-22, 25-20. The underdog Lady Spikers finally beat the Lady Eagles in Season 79, when it counted most.
Even if DLSU had more unforced errors than ADMU (40 – 36), DLSU had a whopping 51 to 38 lead in spikes. This was led by Tin Tiamzon’s 15 and Kim Dy’s 12. Aduke Agunsanya and Des Cheng also contributed heavily in this category.
Of course, not to be overlooked was the excellent coaching by Coach Ramil de Jesus and his staff. His “hugots” of May Luna, Michelle Cobb and CJ Saga played quality minutes.
Excellent defense from Ms. Everything Dawn Macandili and newly crowned UAAP MVP Majoy Baron also helped La Salle’s cause. Add to that 7 service aces by Kim Fajardo and what you get is a great all around game by the Lady Spikers.
Now back to that 2nd set that changed the whole complexion of the game. If DLSU wins the championship, that 2nd set would have been the difference. They frustrated the Lady Eagles, most especially their dancing coach who did not do much dancing that day. The Lady Eagles took the DLSU Lady Spikers for granted. What they did not expect was that ANIMO is real and the zeal the drives every La Salle team and player.
Kim Fajardo’s leadership reminds me so much of how Aby Maraño led her teams to championships. Though their styles are different, the results are the same.
It’s only Game 1 of the best of 3 and Ateneo will come back better prepared. However, so will DLSU. I still think this will go to 3 games, but I hope the Lady Spikers finish it off on May 6.
On another matter, the DLSU Lady Booters are playing for the championship on May 7 at the Rizal Football field. Let’s give them our support.