Grethcel Soltones provided the spark while Ces Molina delivered in the clutch, buoying Team Saints over Team Heroes in five thrilling sets, 25-17, 24-26, 21-25, 25-17, 17-15, in the inaugural NCAA Season 95 Volleyball All-Star Game, Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The San Beda alumna came through when it mattered most, pummeling consecutive blows that overturned a precarious 13-14 deficit to a 15-14 edge. But the lead was short-lived, as Klarissa Abriam committed a line violation in a service attempt in the ensuing sequence.
Fortunately, Molina lifted Team Saints once again, bamboozling the defense with an off-speed attack, 16-15. Jovy Prado, a proud product of Arellano, tried to provide Team Heroes a lease on life, but her down-the-line hit sailed wide.
While Molina emerged as the game-changer down the stretch, San Sebastian alumna and three-time NCAA Most Valuable Player Gretchel Soltones shone the brightest of the star-studded match.
Soltones — who also hammered down the differential hits in the cardiac fifth frame — was stellar all game long. She flaunted her defensive wares, while dealing damage in a plethora of ways en route to the MVP plum.
All in all, each competitor in the exhibition game had a good time regardless of the result.
“Sobrang happy kasi sa bench pa lang, wala kaming ibang ginawa kun’di magkwentuhan. All in all sa game namin today is enjoyment lang talaga. As in makita lang ng mga fans, makita ng mga bata, ng mga bagong henerasyon ngayon sa NCAA ‘yung mga dating henerasyon,” said Saints and Perpetual head coach Macky Cariño, who was hailed the tactician of the match. “‘Yung collaboration between old and new sobrang maganda ang naging result.”
The returning stars of the past who suited up for Team Saints were Rachel Austero (St. Benilde), Miracle Mendoza (Letran), and Cindy Imbo (Perpetual). For Team Heroes, the alumnae who saw action include Shola Alvarez (JRU), Arianne Angustia (EAC), Cherilyn Sindayen (Lyceum), and Kat Racelis (Mapua).