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Letran Lady Knights play spoilers, erase Perpetual’s NCAA 95 twice-to-beat hopes

Colegio de San Juan de Letran wielded the upset axe, toppling the fancied University of Perpetual Help System DALTA in an uphill battle, 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15, in the NCAA Season 95 Women’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Thursday.

The Lady Knights averted a late collapse after squandering a two-set advantage, regrouping in the nick of time to pull off the escape act.

“Nawala kasi sa kanila noong third and fourth ‘yung enjoyment eh. ‘Yun ‘yung kailangan kong gamutin sa kanila. Noong fifth set na lamang [Perpetual], sabi ko lang na i-enjoy lang nila ang laro,” Letran head coach Michael Inoferio said.

In the frantic fifth set, Jhona Rosal gave Letran a whipping, unfurling hit after hit to break a deadlock at 11 and put Perpetual at match point, 14-12. But Letran remained unfazed, feeding off Shyra Umandal’s botched service attempt. Daisy Melendres then picked off Yanca Tripoli above the net, setting up a deuce.

Both teams traded blows from there, until Chamberlaine Cunada delivered the momentum-swinging spike that went off the block to push Letran ahead, 15-14. In the ensuing sequence, Jenny Gaviola and Charina Scott tried to break through at the middle, but Melendres was there to repulse the attack and seal the deal.

“One point at a time. Makakarating rin tayo. At ‘yun nga ang nangyari,” Inoferio beamed.

Thanks to their display of grit and composure down the stretch, the Lady Knights levelled their win-loss card to 4-4. In the process, they doused the twice-to-beat hopes of the Lady Altas, who fell to solo fourth with a 6-3 slate.

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Cunada led the way for the Lady Knights, putting up 19 points, with all but one coming from attacks. Melendres supplemented three of her team’s seven blocks to end up with 16 markers. Meanwhile, Julienne Castro chimed in a triple-double of 12 points, 12 receptions and 10 digs.

“Coming from two losses against Arellano and JRU, medyo mababa ang morale ng mga bata. So this time, andoon nanaman akala ko mawawala pa eh. At least going into the final game against San Sebastian, mataas ang morale ng mga bata. Maganda baon namin ‘to para sa Lunes,” the Letran mentor added.

Rosal topbilled with 22 points laced with 13 digs and eight receptions that went for naught. Tripoli and Scott managed 14 and 11 markers, respectively, for Perpetual. Umandal had 10 in the defeat.

UPDATE: Letran’s final match against also-ran San Sebastian has been postponed, as the NCAA has called off all its senior volleyball games until further notice following the COVID-19 outbreak.

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