Thea Gagate scattered 27 points to power De La Salle University to a thrilling, 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-8, victory over Adamson University to clinch the last Final seat in the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship late Friday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
The third-year middle ignited the Lady Spikers’ fifth set fightback after going down 0-3 to forge an exciting winner-take-all title showdown against unbeaten National University on November 19 in a rematch of UAAP Season 84 Finals.
“We just held on. We’re really determined to get back at them and win this game,” said Gagate, who hammered 18 attacks, tallied five kill blocks, and landed four aces.
The Lady Falcons, who swept La Salle in the second round, opened the deciding set with three straight points following a strong fourth-frame 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, who are looking to avenge their UAAP championship series loss to the Lady Bulldogs last June.
Earlier, NU defeated University of Santo Tomas, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, in the other semifinals pairing to move a win away from adding another feather to its cap.
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.
Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University played sans head coach Oliver Almadro and veteran hitters Vannie Gandler and Faith Nisperos but still managed to take down University of Perpetual Help, 25-23, 18-25, 25-18, 25-22, in their classification round encounter.
Lyan De Guzman stepped up to lead the Blue Eagles with 18 points while Gena Hora and Joan Narit chipped in 14 and 10 markers, respectively.
Ateneo clashes with the University of the Philippines, which outlasted Far Eastern University, 26-24, 28-26, 27-29, 22-25, 15-8, in the battle for fifth next week.