MANILA — La Salle has once again added to its impressive collection of achievements by emerging victorious in the inaugural Shakey’ Super League (SSL) National Invitationals championship. In a thrilling Game 3 showdown against Adamson on Sunday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, La Salle secured a 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 win.

The Lady Spikers demonstrated their prowess yet again, dispatching the Lady Falcons in a swift 89 minutes of play to complete a reverse sweep in the best-of-three championship series.

Following a heartbreaking five-set defeat in Game 1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27, 14-16), La Salle came back strong with a clinical performance in Game 2 (25-23, 25-12, 25-18), setting the stage for their dominant showing in the decisive match. The team exhibited remarkable teamwork and skill diversity to secure their victory.

Tournament MVP Shevana Laput led the charge with 13 points, comprising 11 hits and two blocks. She was one of four players to reach double-digit scores, as La Salle solidified its position at the pinnacle of the SSL after having previously dominated the UAAP last season.

Laput maintained an impressive finals average of 20.3 points, highlighted by a standout 30-point performance in Game 1, followed by an 18-point contribution in Game 2.

Contributions were not limited to Laput, as Thea Gagate (1st Middle Blocker), Amie Provido (2nd Best Middle Blocker), and Alleiah Malaluan (2nd Best Outside Hitter) each chipped in with 10 points. Their collective efforts epitomized La Salle’s supremacy in the 12-team SSL nationwide tournament, presented by Eurotel as the official hotel and Victory Liner as the office transport provider, in collaboration with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Assistant coach Noel Orcullo emphasized, “For us, exposure was the main goal here, but becoming champions is a bonus. It’s great because, to some extent, we identified areas for improvement that need adjustment before the upcoming UAAP season.” This victory was achieved even in the absence of UAAP Rookie-MVP Angel Canino.

Trailing 8-11 early in the first set, La Salle unleashed a decisive 10-1 surge, culminating in a Gagate block that propelled them to an 18-12 lead. This set the tone for the subsequent sets, where La Salle’s dominant play continued.

With a commanding 18-7 lead resulting from a Laput hit, the Lady Spikers endured a late rally by the Lady Falcons, holding on for a narrow 25-22 win thanks to crucial plays by Provido and Gagate.

From that point onward, La Salle maintained control and clinched victory with a confident 9-4 start in the third set. This triumph in the historic SSL tournament was also made possible with support from sponsors including Mikasa, Team Rebel Sports, Summit Bottled Water, Genius Sports, Potato Corner, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar, and R&B Tea.

Despite an impressive Game 1 performance by Lucille Almonte, who scored 24 points for the Lady Falcons, Adamson settled for a commendable silver medal finish under the guidance of new coach JP Yude, following their third-place finish in UAAP Season 85.

Other notable awardees included Bernadett Pepito (Best Libero) and Angeline Poyos (1st Best Outside Hitter) from the University of Santo Tomas, which secured the bronze medal with a decisive 2-0 sweep against the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta.

Fans had the opportunity to catch all SSL matches live and on-demand through Plus Network Digital Media Services, CNN Philippines, Solar Sports Entertainment, and TAP Sports, which served as media partners for the event.

The historic National Invitationals, with the support of individuals like Boy Tuikinhoy of Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc., Alex Adeva of Northern Mindanao Volleyball Association of Coaches and Referees, and the San Juan Red Cross chapter, were also broadcasted live in all Shakey’s branches nationwide. (ai/mnm)