Lady Spikers stay sharp, edge Thailand club in friendly

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Coco Gauff stepped up preparations for the Australian Open with an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 win over rising Czech Brenda Fruhvirtova at the Auckland Classic on Thursday to march into the quarterfinals.

After a few issues at the start in which US Open champion Gauff dropped her first service game and had to save two break points on her third, the 19-year-old proved unstoppable in the battle of the teens.

The 16-year-old qualifier Fruhvirtova, who beat world number 48 Anna Blinkova in the first round, won only 10 points in the second set of a match that was over in 70 minutes.

“She started off playing very well and I was able to raise my level. I thought I served well and I did better on the returns,” said Gauff, who sent down five aces.

The American will next play eighth see d Varvara Gracheva, the world number 42.

On the other side of the draw, seventh seed Petra Martic of Croatia beat China’s Yue Yuan 6-2, 6-2 and will play the winner of the match between number two seed Elina Svitolina and Emma Raducanu.

Former US Open champion Raducanu has slipped to 301 in the world after being sidelined by injury for the past eight months.

The Australian Open starts on January 14.

MANIL A, Philippines – La Salle is priming up for a title retention bid in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament this February.

Shifting to higher gears a month before the net wars, the Lady Spikers scored a big win against decorated Thailand club Supreme VC in a friendly match.

La Salle won four out of five sets in an open tune-up, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22, 20-25, 15-10, to kick-start its Thailand training camp in flying colors. Supreme VC was a former three-time Thai league champion and Asian Volleyball Club Championship titlist.

UAAP Season 85 Rookie-MVP Angel Canino, Best Middle Blocker Thea Gagate and Shakey’s Super League (SSL) National Invitationals MVP Shevana Laput led the way as the Lady Spikers ushered in a new era.

La Salle, still with young, capable guns, will deal with the graduation of Best Outside Spiker Jolina dela Cruz, Best Setter Mars Alba, middle blocke r Fifi Sharma and ace libero Justine Jazareno entering this season.

The Lady Spikers dominated UAAP Season 85 with only a single defeat through their entire campaign, including a 2-0 sweep of former champion National University for a fitting revenge after losing in Season 84.

After the UAAP, the wards of coach Ramil de Jesus braved on and swept the SSL National Invitationals before trooping to Thailand this time around to complete their preparations.

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