Last year’ semifinalists San Beda University and College of Saint Benilde carved slightly similar dominant wins past the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Lyceum of the Philippines University, respectively, to inch closer to the Final Four of the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball tournament, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
In the day’s opening game, the Taft-based Lady Blazers bucked lethargic passing in the first two sets to ultimately deny the upset-conscious Lady Pirates in four sets, 25-18, 25-19, 25-23, to take their fifth win of the season.
Despite some miscues in the first ball, transferee setter and team captain Jewel Lai was magnificent in her 35 excellent sets, assisting her spikers led by Klarisa Abriam who had 14 points. Middle blocker Rachel Austero also had four blocks to go with nine attacks and an ace to pace the Lady Blazers who are now at 5-1.
The loss sent Lyceum to 2-5.
Similarly, the San Beda Lady Red Spikers also stopped their opponents and rivals Lady Knights in just a little over an hour, 25-18, 25-14, 25-13, to clinch at least a playoff for a semifinals slot with their sixth win.
For head coach Nemesio Gavino Jr., the win is a welcome development given the implications of the next few games. “Siyempre, gusto namin na simulan yung bagong taon ng panalo,” the mentor started.
“Gusto din naming makuha ‘tong panalo na ‘to kasi crucial ‘yung next two games namin kasi yung mga makakalaban namin naghahabol din ng panalo. ‘Yung Baste kailangan nila nung panalo, ‘yung Arellano, siyempre, target nila ‘yung sweep.”
And despite some difficulties in that first set compounded by their errors, the Lady Red Spikers buckled down to work especially on defense. With the Racraquin sisters captain Cesca and libero Daryl doing their guarding on the floor, rookie setter Lynne Matias was able to set up the Viray twins Nieza and Ela to a combined 24 of the team’s 39 total attacks.
With Nieza Viray leading the pride with 17 markers on 14 spikes, two aces and a block, the last year’s runners-up are now targeting one of the twice-to-beat advantage incentives next. Nonetheless, coach Gavino wanted something for his wards, “Battle cry namin is matalo namin ‘yung Arellano.”
For skipper Cesca Racraquin, the Lady Red Spikers are on top of things but needs to work on one thing. “Yung mental toughness talaga, kasi yung iba kong teammates matapang sa simula ng game pero pag napasukan na ng pressure nawawala yung aggressiveness.”
The Lady Blazers (5-1) will try to follow in the footsteps of San Beda, even as they face the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers (4-3) who will try to revive their own bid on Tuesday, January 8 at 12 noon. The Lady Red Spikers (6-1) will face another semis-berth-seeking squad in San Sebastian College-Recolletos Lady Stags (4-2) later at that day at 2 pm.
The Lady Pirates (2-5) return to action the following Friday, January 11 at 12 noon as they take on the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals (0-7). For their part, the Lady Knights (1-6) will face the 1-5 Mapua University Lady Cardinals team the day before, Thursday at the same scheduled start time.
CSB 3 – Abriam 14, Austero 14, Pablo 12, Gamit 7, Umali 6, Lai 4, Daguil 4, Miranda 3, Cardiente 0, Torres L, Lim L.
LPU 1 – Rafael 16, Sindayen 13, Hongria 5, Juanillo 4, Sevillla 3, Wanta 1, Genova 0, Galeno 0, Mapula L, Belaro L.
SBU 3 – Viray N. 17, Viray J. 11, Racracquin C. 9, Espiritu 5, Matiad 4, Parks 3, Diciso 1, Tannagan 0, Galang 0, Racracquin D. L.
CSJL 0 – Mendoza 8, Cunada 5, Musingi 3, Larioque 2, Dela Cruz 2, Farin 1, Urmeneta 1, Upriza 0, Santos 0, De Leon 0, Monteagudo 0, Angeles L.