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Tiebreaker Times

Benilde executes coach Carino’s game plan to snatch Game One of Finals

Going into any kind of competition, a good coach should always have a well-prepared game plan. For Game One of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Finals, the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Lady Blazers were able to execute the game plan of Head Coach Michael Cariño, resulting in a four set victory over the San Sebastian Lady Stags.

Since qualifying for the Finals with their win over Arellano University, coach Cariño has required his players to watch San Sebastian game tapes before and after every practice. He wanted to make sure that his players knew the tendencies and attack patterns of San Sebastian’s main weapon, Gretchel Soltones.

“Twice a day ko sila pinapa-viewing, before and after ng ensayo ko. Para at least alam nila kung ano yung ginagawa nila. Kita mo kanina bantay na bantay. Tsaka yung San Sebastian pag na-stop mo yung Soltones nahihirapan sila manalo. Sobrang pinag-aralan ko paano gagalaw yung San Sebastian. Yung mga bata, ginalaw nalang nila kung paano nila dapat gumalaw ngayong araw na toh.”

The strategy worked to perfection. Cariño credited the team’s blocking as the key factor in their win, with Benilde’s middle blocker, Jeanette Panaga, producing 28 block attempts, with 8 of them converting into points. CSB used their height to frustrate Soltones, who needed 70 attack attempts to pitch in 27 points, and stifle any other San Sebastian from contributing offensively; Denice Lim was the Lady Stags’ next highest scorer with just 6 points.

SVL-College-AU-vs.-CSB-Panaga Benilde executes coach Carino's game plan to snatch Game One of Finals  - philippine sports news

“Yung nagpapanalo sa amin ay yung blocking namin. Yung ensayo namin after ng laban sa AU, sobrang doon ako nagfocus.”

Going into Game One, Coach Macky, as he is often called, felt like his team had leverage over San Sebastian despite the thrice-to-beat advantage that the Lady Stags held. For him, CSB needed the extra games they had played in the step ladder to mature further and develop the team’s chemistry on the court. Ranya Musa shone in the teams first step ladder match against the Perpetual Lady Altas, while it was Panaga’s stellar play in their battle against last year’s champions, the Arellano Lady Chiefs, that led the team to the Finals. Both matches showcased just how far the team has come since the elimination round.

Not only that, the long lay-off of the Lady Stags may have been detrimental to their chances, while Benilde’s hunger to win was sustained by their step ladder victories.

“Mahirap din talaga na nakapahinga ka at hindi nakalaro sa Semi Finals. Kasi kami, yung momentum nasa amin. Yung gusto ng mga bata na manalo kitang kita. Compared sa San Sebastian naghintay lang eh. Di nila alam kung ano magiging adjustments sa Finals. May disadvantage talaga kapag thrice to beat ka. Advantage sa amin kasi na develop yung puso ng team ko sa dikdikan na laban.”

With the series now a best-of-three affair, it will be interesting to see if Benilde will be able to sustain the momentum they have gained through the adversity they have faced, or if San Sebastian will be able to adjust to the height of the Lady Blazers and regain the advantage.

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