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THE De La Salle University Lady Spikers swept aside the competition yesterday to end the inaugural Bahrain-Philippines Volleyball Friendship Games on a high. The visiting women's volleyball champions of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) made it three wins out of three in their short visit to Bahrain, after first taking down Bahrain's young women's national team for the second successive evening and then following it up by outclassing men's team PVB in a single-set contest.

The Lady Spikers defeated their Bahraini counterparts 3-1 (25-8, 25-8, 19-25, 25-6), with the third set featuring a mix of players from both teams before regular play resumed in the fourth. They then took down PVB, a squad made up of local Filipino men's players, 25-17, with Mika Aereen Reyes providing the decisive block.

Bahrain Volleyball Association (BVA) president Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa was on hand during yesterday's events.

"It's been an enjoyable few days for our team here in Bahrain, and we feel very much honoured to have been the ones invited to participate in these Friendship Games," Lady Spikers head coach Ramil de Jesus told the GDN.

The Lady Spikers are using the Friendship Games to help prepare for their upcoming title-defence in the new UAAP season, which gets underway next month.

"We came here not knowing what to expect, so we were a little disappointed to be facing a women's team that is made up of very young players, but we're making the most of it and doing our best to prepare for our UAAP campaign," de Jesus said. "We're the defending champions, so there's a lot of expectations on us to deliver, and while we're losing some key names, we are confident that some of our younger players will step up and fill in those roles."

In yesterday's game against Bahrain, the Lady Spikers were once again a class above the opposition, until set three when they split into two squads to team up with the hosts.

UAAP finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Charleen Abigial Cruz was joined on one side by Reyes and UAAP Best Blocker Michelle Theresa Gumabao; while the other side featured Victonara Galang, Abigail Marano and reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Maria Mikaela Esperanza.

Cruz spearheaded her team to an early lead, but when UAAP season MVP Jacqueline Alarca was inserted into the opposing squad, the momentum shifted and Alarca and crew rode it to the end. Alarca will not be playing this coming UAAP campaign, but still joined the team for their Bahrain trip.

In the fourth set, things were back to normal and the Lady Spikers put on another fine show of skill and teamwork.

In their game against the men, Galang, Gumabao, Esperanza, Cruz, Reyes and Marano combined to take down their male counterparts, much to the delight of the scores of fans who turned up at Juffair Youth Centre.

The Friendship Games were organised by Creator Marketing Consultancy under the patronage of the BVA.

The Lady Spikers are scheduled to fly back to Manila today.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Nov 6, 2011
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