National University is on track for a title repeat in the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship Season 2. This comes after the Lady Bulldogs swept Arellano University 25-17, 25-22, 25-13 to complete a perfect campaign in Pool E on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.
The reigning champions cruised past the Lady Chiefs in just 80 minutes, improving to 6-0 in the tournament and securing the No. 1 seed for the quarterfinals.
In their match against Arellano, all players scored for the Lady Bulldogs, led by Evangeline Alinsug with 14 points on 13 hits. Rookie Arah Ellah Panique and Mhicaela Belen had eight points each, while the reigning SSL MVP Alyssa Solomon added seven.
“Going into the quarterfinals then semifinals, nandiyan na yung top teams. Patawid na kami sa kabilang bracket,” said returning coach Norman Miguel. “Ang goal talaga namin is to reach the finals and get the championship.”
The Lady Bulldogs have yet to drop a set in the tournament and will have a twice-to-beat advantage against the No. 4 team from Pool F.
Laika Tudlasan was the lone Lady Chief in double figures with 11 points as Arellano wrapped up its playoff campaign at 3-3, awaiting the final games to determine its quarterfinal ranking.
Meanwhile, the College of St. Benilde and Adamson secured big wins against separate opponents to stay in contention for the top seeding in Pool F.
The Lady Blazers, two-time champions of the NCAA, handed the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws their first defeat with a thrilling 25-19, 21-25, 25-15, 24-26, 19-17 victory, while the Lady Falcons fended off the University of the East Lady Warriors 25-14, 19-25, 25-23, 25-16.
St. Benilde and Adamson both climbed to 4-1, creating a three-way tie with FEU for the No. 1 spot entering the final playdate on Sunday to determine the top-ranked squad in the quarterfinals for Pool E.
Gayle Pascual shone with 24 points on 22 hits and two blocks, while Zamantha Nolasco hammered 16 points with five blocks. Jade Gentapa and Michelle Gamit added 14 and nine points, respectively, in a redemption tour for St. Benilde.
“Nagtiwala po si coach samin na gustuhin namin itong panalo. Hindi lang siya. ‘Yung aggressiveness namin, dapat laging nandoon. Dapat laging gustuhin namin,” said Pascual, a former NCAA Finals MVP.
Earlier, Antonette Adolfo led the way as Adamson thwarted UE to stay in the race for Pool F supremacy despite a tough loss against FEU last week.
“’Yung pagkatalo po namin sa FEU, naging lesson po talaga samin yun. Marami po kaming pagkukulang tapos naging complacent din po kami. Marami pa rin po kaming pagkukulang,” said Adolfo.
Adamson and CSB will face each other in a crucial duel on Sunday, while FEU takes on UE. Ateneo (2-3) and the University of Santo Tomas (4-1) will also clash in a key Pool E battle.
The higher-ranked teams after the playoffs, where the top eight teams carried over their preliminary round records, will have twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals of the SSL, in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Sports Commission.