Angel Canino in running to duplicate old rival’s UAAP ROY-MVP record

Angel Canino has delivered on both ends thus far and is the reason why La Salle is unbeaten. —UAAP PHOTO

La Salle swept the first round of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament in relentless fashion on Wednesday, a trait the Lady Spikers have in Season 85 mainly because of Angel Canino.

And the La Salle rookie is, like what an old rival pulled off last year, on line to become a Rookie of the Year-Most Valuable Player (ROY-MVP), just the second player in league history.

Tied for the most points after the first round with 112, ranked fifth in the best receiver department with a 39.01 percent efficiency, and the seventh-best server with .29 aces per set, Canino is on course to doing what National University’s (NU) Bella Belen pulled off last season in leading the Lady Bulldogs to snapping a 65-year title wait.

Second big player

La Salle Lady Spikers' Jolina Dela Cruz. –UAAP PHOTO

La Salle Lady Spikers’ Jolina Dela Cruz. –UAAP PHOTO

Another Lady Spiker in the Top 10 of important categories is senior Jolina dela Cruz, who finished 10th in scoring with 79, third in blocks with .58 per set, fourth in receiving with 42.72 percent efficiency rate, seventh in digs with 2.33 per set and 10th in serving with 0.25 aces per frame.

Canino, though, is the biggest reason why the Lady Spikers are playing at a different level this year, emphasizing that with a ruthless straight sets conquest of the defending champion Lady Bulldogs, 25-10, 25-15, 25-21, before a packed crowd at Mall of Asia Arena that verified their status as the real team to beat.

“I don’t think that it’s only my performance,” Canino said when told that she has been key so far for the Lady Spikers. “We all help each other out on the court. So it’s just not me—it’s total team effort why we’re winning.”

Her 16-point average is tied with NU’s Alyssa Solomon, with Santo Tomas star Eya Laure in third with 105 total points built on 86 kills and 15 blocks.

Adamson spiker Kate Santiago was fourth with 97 points, while her rookie teammate Trisha Tubu and Faith Nisperos of Ateneo had 96 points apiece for No. 5

Two-way threat

Canino is not a one-way player, as her reception average provides for a steady defensive presence on the Lady Spikers’ side of the floor like the veteran Thea Gagate, who emerged as the top blocker in the first round with 0.79 blocks per set.

The University of the Philippines’ Nina Ytang (0.75), Dela Cruz and Laure (0.58), and NU middle blocker Erin Pangilinan and La Salle’s Fifi Sharma with 0.54 kill blocks per set round out the top five of that department.

The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, topped four of the six team departments in finishing in a second place tie with Santo Tomas and Adamson at 5-2. NU was the best spiking team with a 34.69 percent attack rate, best serving team averaging 2.04 aces per set, best setting team with 5.50 excellent sets per frame, and best receiving team with 38.08 percent efficiency rate.

La Salle, though, was the top blocking team with 3.17 blocks per set, way ahead of No.2 Adamson (1.96). The Lady Spikers are also No.2 in spiking (33.86 percent), No.2 in service aces (1.88 aces per set), top two in receiving (38.07 percent), second in digging (12.08 digs per frame) behind leader Far Eastern University (13.74), and No.4 in setting with 4.67 excellent sets per frame.

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