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Canino-less Lady Archers trounce Fighting Maroons to boost playoff hopes

MANILA, Philippines -- The La Salle Lady Spikers survived the gritty University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 26-24, 25-20, 24-26, 27-25 to secure at least a playoff for the Final Four of the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament Thursday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Shevana Laput stepped up for the defending champions in the absence of star Angel Canino, finishing with 21 points off 18 attacks, two blocks and a service ace.

Canino suffered a cut in an accident a few days ago, according to La Salle deputy coach Noel Orcullo.

After surviving a scare in the close first set, La Salle showcased its dominant form to take the 2-0 lead.

In the third set, the Lady Spikers continued pouncing on UP, as they took a 17-7 lead with an Alleiah Malaluan service ace.

The Fighting Maroons then brought the fight and stormed back.

With La Salle leading by nine, 18-9, thanks to a Lilay del Castillo down-the-line attack, UP stormed back and unleashed a 13-4 run to cut the lead to four, 18-22 capped by an attack error by Shevana Laput.

As the two teams battled it out, an error by UP's Heart Magsombol pushed the Lady Spikers to the match point, 24-20.

The Taft-based spikers then collapsed, committing a number of errors as UP ended the third set with a 6-0 blitz to notch a set, 26-24.

In the fourth set, the Fighting Maroons led by three, 23-20, with a rotation error.

A Steph Bustrillo attack led the Diliman-based squad to within a point to extend the match, 24-22.

Malaluan powered in back-to-back points to tie the set up.

Nina Ytang gave UP a one-point lead, 25-24, but Malaluan, Maicah Larroza and Julia Coronel teamed up to grab La Salle's eighth win in nine contests thus far.

Malaluan had 17 points for La Salle, while Larroza chipped in 12.

Irah Jaboneta and Bustrillo spearheaded the Fighting Maroons with 18 and 16 markers, respectively.

"Siguro nabigla lang yung mga bata... Hindi inaasahan kasi nga wala si Angel. Pero sinabihan naman namin sila ready lang, maging ready kung wala man si Angel, kung sino man yung papalit sa pwesto ni Angel, maging ready lang," Orcullo said.

"So, nagdeliver naman, kaya lang yung nangyari sa third set pero error namin yung nag--