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Soltones gave her teammates a gut check, and it worked



The San Sebastian Lady Stags have fallen on desperate times. For most teams, four years without a title is bearable. But for the proud Lady Stags, who have more than 20 titles in the NCAA, it’s excruciating.

When they swept the Season 91 elimination round and went straight to the Finals with a sizable thrice-to-beat advantage, a championship seemed inevitable. But, instead of shining, the Lady Stags were puzzling in the first two matches of the series.

Now two-time MVP Grethcel Soltones tried desperately to lift her team to no avail, with her routine fantastic performances resulting in losses. Even if Soltones had 27 points in each of the first two matches, her teammates provided minimal support, barely matching her output.

Pushed to the brink,San Sebastian responded in Game Three yesterday. The fire and scrappiness that led to their unlikely undefeated run rekindled. In a resounding win, the rest of the Lady Stags saw Soltones’ 31 points output and raised her a bit more. Middle blocker Kim Villegas went off for 11 points, while Nikka Dalisay and Joyce Sta Rita had eight apiece. San Sebastian even got a clutch contribution from Dangie Encarnacion, who had hopped off the bench midway through the third set and scored six big points, including a cross-court kill that gave them match point in the fourth set.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Soltones gave her teammates a gut check, and it worked

Kim Villegas pulled of 11 big points in San Sebastian’s win over Benilde.

As the team captain, Soltones took the time in between matches to really challenge her comrades in a Kobe Bryant-esque manner.

“Kinausap ko talaga ‘yung team kasi hindi na nakakatuwa ‘yung two losses. Kailan na talaga nilang mag-step up. Kasi ako patay kung patay kapag naglalaro,” she said.

“Kinausap ko sila sa rooftop. Sa pinakatuktok ng Baste. Doon kami naglabasan ng sama ng loob. At that time, parang susuko na ako kasi ang panget talaga pakinggan na one-woman show kami. Kaya sinabi ko sa kanila, ‘Bat hindi niyo subukan na kayo naman ‘yung mailagay sa mga newspaper at hindi lang ako at si Eroa (Alyssa, one of the best liberos in the country). Bakit hindi niyo magawa?’ Hindi ko na kasi talaga kaya ‘yung pinag-gagagawa ‘nung iba,” Soltones recalled urging her teammates to help her repay all the support San Sebastian and their coach, Roger Gorayeb had given them.

“Kay Coach Roger kasi nagrereflect ‘yung mga ginagawa namin. Biruin mo 9-0 sa elimnation tapos 0-2 sa Finals, ano ‘yun?”

Soltones continued, admitting that she had felt that too much of the pressure was falling on her.

“Hindi naman ako sobrang galing tulad ni Ate Alyssa (Valdez), idol ko ‘yun. Pero hindi naman ako magiging ganito maglaro kung hindi ako dumaan sa paghihirap muna. Sabi ko ‘Bat hindi niyo subukan magstep up?’ Ang laki kasi ng pressure sa akin. Ako gusto ko talagang manalo pero dapat team effort ‘to,” she recalled even going as far as to cursing out her teammates, she admitted.

“Parang tatanga tanga kami ‘no? (Last two games). May bola na mahuhulog sa tapat namin, di namin kukunin, hahayaan na lang namin mahulog, anong tawag doon? Tanga,” she jokingly expreased in a Roger Gorayeb-like tone.

Before the match, Soltones had even been treated to a surprise reunion with her mom, Marilyn Soltones, whom she had not seen for 11 years, after receiving her second straight MVP trophy. However, Grethcel said that it had not affected her focus at all.

“Siyempre masaya po akong nagkita na kami ulet pero ang isip ko po talaga nasa championship. Mas importante po sa akin ‘to kasi pinagtrabahuhan ko ‘to. Marami pa akong tanong sa kanya, pero saka na po ‘yun. Nandiyan lang naman siya.”

The Lady Stags can end the drought tomorrow, in the winner-take-all Game Four at the FilOil Flying V Arena.


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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