La Salle Lady Spikers with injured star Angel Canino before the game at the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — With Angel Canino's return still up in the air, Shevana Laput and De La Salle Lady Spikers promise to keep working in their bid to retain their title in the UAAP Season 86 Women's Volleyball Tournament.

The season's reigning MVP entered the court at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday wearing a sling on her right arm and tightly wrapped under a La Salle jacket due to a cut she suffered in an unfortunate non-volleyball-related accident.

Shevana Laput scored 21 points to lead the Lady Spikers sans Canino over the plucky University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 27-25, to guarantee at least one playoff for a Final Four dock .

READ: UAAP: Angel Canino de La Salle suffered an injury to his right arm due to an accident

“There is definitely a need to step up. I think there is that pressure, but I'm happy that my team and coaches have confidence in me,” said Laput.

“Of course without Angel there is this pressure to perform well. And that game wasn't our best. We know that as a team we can do better. Angel is a big factor, but there are 13 of us on the team who can step up.”

De La Salle Lady Spikers Volleyball UAAP Shevana Laput

Shevana Laput and De La Salle Lady Spikers beat UP without star Angel Canino in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

With Canino's recovery schedule still daily, La Salle vice coach Noel Orcullo reminded the players that they can deliver even without their star, as they did in Shakey's Super League National Invitationals last year when she sat out .

“We always tell the kids that we are used to playing even without Angel, like what happened in Shakey's Super League where we won the championship,” said Orcullo speaking on behalf of coach Ramil De Jesus. “We decided they will be ready with or without Angel.

READ: UAAP: La Salle gets tough victory over UP without Angel Canino

In the pre-season league, Laput emerged as the MVP and led the Lady Spikers to the national title after defeating Adamson in the best-of-three finals via a series comeback.

Canino cheered his teammates throughout the game, which inspired Laput and the Lady Spikers to beat the Fighting Maroons.

“Her presence is definitely a motivation. You know, doing her justice, giving her peace of mind, winning for her. We're winning for her now. She may not be on the court, but she is in our hearts,” said Laput.

“We just have to focus on one game at a time, focus on our system and how we play our game. By doing this, we can actually do this. We can win twice as much,” she added.

La Salle is currently in second place with an 8-1 record and has a chance to secure one of two twice-defeated leads with five games remaining in the knockout stage.

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“We will work hard, there is no other way to do this. We will continue doing what we do in training and will make adjustments if Angel doesn't suit up in the next game. Our goal is the advantage of being twice as good,” said Orcollo.