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De La Salle sets sight on UAAP volley semis berth

Saturday, 24 March 2018 00:00 Published in Sports

Defending champion De La Salle shoots for a Final Four berth as it tangles with University of the East today in the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
All eyes will be on the league's two talented liberos in the Lady Spikers' Dawn Macandili and the Lady Warriors' Kath Arado in the 4 p.m. match
"Yung buhay ng UE, na kay Arado," said De La Salle mentor Ramil Jesus, who has high respects on the league leader in digs and receptions.
Far Eastern University tries to grab solo third spot against an University of the Philippines fighting for Final Four lives in the curtain raiser at 2 p.m.
De La Salle's four-game winning streak was made possible by the trio of reigning MVP Majoy Baron, Kim Kianna Dy and Desiree Cheng.
But the reserves also contribute.
Norielle Ipac, for one, made an impact as a substiute for Aduke Ogunsanya in the Lady Spikers' 25-17, 21-25, 16-25, 25-20, 15-5 win over the Lady Tamaraws last Sunday.
Although they are back in last place after losing two consecutive matches, the Lady Warriors doesn't show the 2-8 record in their games.
Aside from Arado, interim coach Rod Roque has been drawing big numbers from Shaya Adorador and vastly-improved Meanne Mendrez, while setter Lai Bendong has been playing with a lot of confidence in orchestrating plays.
"Hindi puwedeng biruin ang UE," said De Jesus, as De La Salle is gunning for a 10th straight semis appearance.
Currently tied with skidding National University at 6-4, FEU needs to pull this one off to close in on second-running Ateneo (7-3) in the race for the second twice-to-beat slot in the Final Four.
The Lady Maroons (3-7) are lagging behind the Lady Tamaraws and the Lady Bulldogs by three games in the race for the last semis berth.
UP, which is currently tied with University of Santo Tomas in sixth place, cannot afford to commit mistakes from now on and another loss will virtually kiss its Final Four aspirations goodbye.
In the men's division starting at 8 a.m., titleholder Ateneo and FEU, in joint second at 8-2, try to assure themselves of semifinals berths against UP and UE, respectively.

Park, Hedwall, Stoelting share LPGA lead

Saturday, 24 March 2018 00:00 Published in Sports

LOS ANGELES-- South Korea's Park Hee-young, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall and American Jackie Stoelting each fired a six-under par 66 to share the lead after Thursday's opening round of the LPGA Kia Classic.
In the final tuneup before next week's first major championship of the LPGA season at Rancho Mirage, Park and Hedwall opened with bogey-free rounds at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.
"It was just a solid day," Hedwall said. "I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine. Just I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days."
Hedwall began on the back nine and birdied six of her last 10 holes to join the lead pack. She birdied 18, followed with birdies at the second and third holes, birdied the par-5 fifth and eighth holes and closed with a birdie at the ninth.
Hedwall is winless in 125 LPGA events, her eight titles worldwide including five in Europe and three in Australia, including her most recent at the 2013 Women's New South Wales Open.
"I feel like my game is really solid. It's just my putting that I've actually been struggling with the past couple years," Hedwall said.
"It's just all about trust and having self-confidence. I feel like I've gained that now. I had good practice sessions the last couple days, and it's starting to pay off. That's really nice."
Park, whose most recent of two LPGA crowns was the 2013 Manulife LPGA Classic, began on the 10th tee as well but saved her best for last, closing with three consecutive birdies in a late-afternoon run.
"The greens are really soft, so easier to play more with the second shot," Park said. "I tried to leave the uphill putts, so kind of worked well."
Stoelting, seeking her first LPGA title, took a bogey at the par-3 third but responded by making birdies on six of the next nine holes then another to conclude her round.

Halep rallies past Dodin in Miami WTA opener

Saturday, 24 March 2018 00:00 Published in Sports

MIAMI, Florida-- World number one Simona Halep battled back to eliminate France's Oceane Dodin 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 Thursday and reach the third round of the WTA Miami Open.
Qualifying lucky loser Dodin led 4-2 in the third set, powered by punishing groundstrokes that at times baffled the top-seeded Romanian, before Halep roared back for the triumph in her first match after an opening bye.
"It was a crazy match," Halep said. "I didn't know where the ball is coming, and I had to pay attention to every shot she hit. But I won it and I'm happy."
Halep will remain atop the WTA rankings no matter how she fares in the Miami fortnight, but Dodin served notice her path will not be an easy one.
"This year, I've had many tough matches, so I'm used to it," Halep said. "I just wanted to stay focused, not give up, and in the end I won the match. I was fighting to the end and that was the most important thing today."
Halep, a runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in January's Australian Open still chasing her first Grand Slam title, outlasted Dodin after two hours and six minutes despite capturing the final four games.
"It's tough to play against an opponent like this because she hits very strong and you never know where the ball is coming," Halep said.
"I just tried to stay strong in my legs, return the ball and make her move more, because she had trouble hitting the ball as hard as she does when she was on the run."



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