La Salle Lady Spikers rookie Angel Canino. –UAAP PHOTO

La Salle Lady Spikers rookie Angel Canino. –UAAP PHOTO

La Salle Lady Spikers rookie Angel Canino. –UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Angel Canino showed maturity beyond years in propelling La Salle past gritty University of Santo Tomas, 25-20, 16-25, 25-8, 15-25, 16-14, in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The 19-year-old rookie led the way for the Lady Spikers with a team-high 18 points built on 16 attacks, one ace, and a block to go with 11 excellent receptions.

More than the numbers she posted, Canino’s will to win fueled La Salle to escape UST, led by Eya Laure and the returning Milena Alessandrini.

“Laban lang, atin to. Alam namin kasi na gina-guide kami ni Lord habang nasa loob kami. Alam namin na lalaban po kami. Kaya sinasabi po namin atin to, hawak lang, kapit lang,” said Canino, who scored three points in the fifth set.

(I just kept on thinking that we need to keep on fighting and this game will be ours. We all know that Lord will guide us and we will fight on. We said this is ours and hold on.)

“Papakita po namin kung sino kami sa Lady Spikers. Kung anong kaya namin. Yun talaga yung nakapagpanalo sa amin sa fifth set kasi pinush din namin yung sarili namin to the limit at binigay namin lahat,” she added.

(We wanted to show who the Lady Spikers are and what we can do. That’s what led us to the fifth-set win. We just pushed ourselves and gave it our all.)

Canino, who hails from Bacolod, was happy to realize her dream of playing in the UAAP women’s volleyball at a big venue. But she remained focused on her own game and her team, amid playing in front of 6,849 fans.

“I’m just focusing on what’s inside [the court] and what we can do as a team. That’s why I was able to contribute as well as my teammates,” she said in Filipino. “I’m so happy because it’s my dream to play here in the UAAP at MOA Arena. I didn’t expect that I will be playing like this and the outcome of our game.”

La Salle interim coach Noel Orcullo, who had a baptism of fire in the team’s first game without Ramil De Jesus in 25 seasons, was pleased with Canino’s debut performance but he insisted that there’s still room for improvement.

“She was okay but she has more to improve so we have to adjust in training. At least, she gained her confidence from this intense game,” Orcullo said in Filipino. “This is a confidence-builder not only for her but also for the whole team. We hope to sustain our momentum from this win.”

After a debut to remember, the former UAAP girls MVP is determined to keep improving and sustain La Salle’s momentum when they battle a bounce-back-seeking University of the Philippines on Wednesday at the same venue in Pasay City.

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