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Tiebreaker Times


Cunada drops career-high as Letran squeaks past Lyceum, bolsters NCAA 95 F4 bid

In a clash between two teams jockeying for crucial positioning in the NCAA Season 95 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Chamberlaine Cunada had to turn in a season-best performance to keep Colegio de San Juan de Letran in contention.

Cunada uncorked 28 points built on 24 attacks and three blocks, powering the Lady Knights past the Lyceum of the Philippines University in a five-set 26-28, 27-25, 16-25, 25-19, 16-14, thriller at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Friday.

Cunada delivered the goods for the red and blue in a late surge that saw them erase a one-set deficit, forging a decider and coming away with their first winning streak.

With this, the Lady Knights rose to 3-2 to tie a knot with San Beda at fourth spot.

“Malaki [‘to para sa amin] kasi kahit papaano nagkakaroon ka ng liwanag doon sa ideal number para sa top four,” Letran head coach Michael Inoferio said. “Siguro kahit sinong coach na nasa position ko, talagang lahat kami nagaasam na makadikit especially doon sa tatlo na nasa taas.”

Down at the most critical juncture of the match, though, it was the troika of Julienne Castro, Charm Simborio and Kath Dela Cruz that provided Letran the finishing kick.

Momentum swung wildly in the frantic fifth frame as deadlock after deadlock ensued, leading up to a lock at 11. But Alexa Rafael and Venice Puzon linked up to lift the Lady Pirates at match point, 14-11.

Letran’s chances looked bleak until Castro and Simborio willed them back through their precise execution at the net and steady service game. In no time, the match swung to deuce.

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Dela Cruz carried the cudgels from there, pummeling a blistering kill that went through the outstretched arms of the Lady Pirates to break the tie. This, before Rafael sent her attack long that sealed Letran’s stunning 6-0 resurgence.

“Ngayon kasi lalo na ‘yung team captain ko kita mo naman siya ‘yung huling nag-service gusto niya talaga manalo kasi wala na siyang playing year next year,” Inoferio said of Simborio, who showed nerves of steel from the service line and finished with 17-set, six-point line in the victory.

“Siguro ‘yun ‘yung isang nagdala sa kanila tsaka service namin. And the rest ay ‘yung kanilang will na i-sacrifice ‘yung katawan nila para manalo,” he added.

Castro poured in 17 markers, while Anne Monteagudo and Dela Cruz chimed in nine and eight points, respectively.

The Lady Pirates, who crumbled in the face of pressure, saw their two-game winning surge come to a halt. They slid to 2-4 for a joint sixth place with JRU.

Rafael and Monica Jane Sevilla topped Lyceum with 17 markers apiece. The latter even had 14 excellent digs for a double-double performance that went for naught.

Letran will try to sustain its winning form when it faces Arellano on Tuesday, February 4. Meanwhile, Lyceum will look to get back on track when it collides with Mapua on Thursday, February 6. Both matches will be held at the same venue.

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