The San Sebastian Lady Stags had swept the elimination round of the NCAA Season 91 Women’s Volleyball tournament, assuring them of an automatic Finals berth while holding a thrice-to-beat advantage. The advantage wasn’t enough for team captain Grethcel Soltones and the rest of the team, as they fell to the CSB Lady Blazers in Game Four of the Finals, 25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22 at the FilOil Flying V Centre, yesterday.
Throughout the tournament, Soltones had carried the Lady Stags with her offensive prowess and sound defense. Few teams found an answer to Soltones’ vast arsenal of attacks. But for the past four games, the Lady Blazers made scoring extremely difficult for her. In Game One and Two, Soltones posted a team-high 27 points in both matches, but it had taken her 70 and 74 attempts respectively, with a multitude of attack errors.
The length and height of the Lady Blazers’ defenders made life hell for Soltones in the first two games, and she needed her teammates to help carry the offensive load for the team.
In Game Three, which the Lady Stags won, she had another inefficient night with 31 points from 81 attacks. The difference this time was the other Lady Stags showed up. Katherine Villegas roamed the middle, preventing easy Lady Blazer points while putting up 11 points for the Lady Stags. Nikka Dalisay and Joyce Sta. Rita helped with eight points apiece, while Denice Lim and Dangie Encarnacion contributed six each.
The rubber match hung in the balance as both teams contested each set until the last few plays. Unfortunately for San Sebastian, they could not muster a strong enough comeback, and, once again, Soltones had another inefficient night with 19 points from 79 attacks. Coach Roger Gorayeb even had to sit Soltones down early in the fourth set ,as the MVP just could not figure out CSB’s defensive enigma. Her teammates played valiantly.
But it was not enough.
In her career, Soltones is a measely 2-7 in the Finals.
And Soltones blames herself for this loss.
“Nagkulang po talaga ako, yun yung main dahilan eh,” a despondent Soltones shared with Tiebreaker Times, but she beamed pride as she recalled how her teammates had kept the match close while she was on the bench. “Ginawa namin lahat ng best namin, lalo yung mga teammates ko. Nagkulang lang siguro, lalo na ako. Pero proud pa rin ako sa teammates ko kasi hindi nila iniwan yung team na babagsak nalang.”
Soltones felt so bad about the way she had performed that even her coach noticed it. “(Si coach) proud po siya sa akin, may ayaw lang sa attitude ko. Nagmukmok kasi ako kasi feeling ko wala akong nagawa.”
Tired, beaten, and with one playing year left, she made a promise to herself. She’ll be back.
In Gorayeb’s stay at SSC, every Lady Stag graduated with a championship. Soltones falls in danger of being the first player to leave SSC without a title.
“Babawi kami next year.”