Defending champion National University moved closer to a sweep as the University of Santo Tomas bounced back with a bang on Day 2 of the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship Season 2 playoffs over the weekend at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.
Led by ace spiker Mhicaela Belen, the Lady Bulldogs drubbed the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 25-20, 25-18, 25-15, while the Golden Tigresses clobbered the Arellano Lady Chiefs, 25-16, 31-29, 25-18.
NU stretched its unbeaten run to five games to zero in on a No. 1 seed finish as UST stayed at the second spot with a 4-1 record in Pool E of the SSL Season 2, backed by Mikasa, Eurotel, Victory Liner, Summit Bottle Water, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, R and B Milk Tea, Potato Corner, Rebel Sports, Converge ICT Solutions, Genius Sports, and United Auctioneers, Inc.
Belen, the former UAAP Rookie-MVP, unloaded 13 points on 11 attacks and two blocks to headline NU’s sweep of the retooled Ateneo side under the watch of Philippine men’s national team mentor Sergio Veloso.
The Lady Bulldogs, also under the returning mentor Norman Miguel, needed only 84 minutes to take down the Blue Eagles to stay on track for a title retention bid after sweeping the inaugural season.
“Hindi po kami naka-kampante sa game. Lagi naming iniisip na meron pa kaming dapat i-improve, which is nagagawa namin sa training, kaya pagdating sa game, hindi na kami masyadong nahihirapan,” said Belen.
In the other game, Jonna Perdido fired 13 points while Angeline Poyos and Regina Jurado added 12 and seven points, respectively, in UST’s rebound against Arellano after absorbing its lone loss at the hands of NU.
“Kami po lahat, parang gigil manalo kaya po ganoon ‘yung performance namin this game,” said Jonna Perdido as the Golden Tigresses were quick to shrug off a revenge 25-19, 25-20, 25-16 defeat to the Lady Bulldogs.
UST finished fourth in the SSL Season 1 and third in the SSL National Invitationals this year, making it a mission to surpass those feats in the tougher tournament in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Arellano fell to 3-2 as Ateneo, at 2-3, remained winless in the playoffs, where all eight teams carried over their standings from the preliminary round for the final ranking in the quarterfinals featuring twice-to-beat incentives for the higher-ranked squads.
The Lady Chiefs stunned the Blue Eagles in the playoff opener, 25-21, 25-18, 25-21.
In the first game, NCAA champion College of St. Benilde rolled past the University of the East, 25-18, 25-21, 25-4.
The Lady Blazers needed only 68 minutes to pocket the easy win highlighted by a massive 21-point demolition of the Lady Warriors in the third set to tie Adamson for the second spot with similar 3-1 cards in Pool F, led by the unbeaten Far Eastern University (4-0).
Cloanne Mondoñedo quarterbacked St. Benilde’s fine-tuned offense with 15 excellent sets as all players barged into the scoring column, led by Zamantha Nolasco with 12 points.
Nolasco had nine hits, three blocks, and an ace, while Jade Gentapa cashed in 11 points. Backstopping them was Gayle Pascual with eight points, followed by five each from Michelle Gamit, Corrine Apostol, and Wielyn Estoque.
Jerry Yee, who’s serving as the newly-appointed mentor of UE, sat on St. Benilde’s bench while his deputy Dr. Obet Vital called the shots for the Lady Warriors in the battle between his two teams.
“Ang laking tulong samin nung nag-break ang Shakey’s since ang dami ring nagkasakit samin at kailangang mag-recover. Happy kami since ‘nung last game sa elims na nag-fifth set. Ginusto namin at magtra-trabaho kami hanggang dulo,” said Mondoñedo.
Rookie Casiey Dongallo fired eight points to serve as the only bright spot for the Lady Warriors, who slid to 2-2.