Currently etched at second place in the standings with a 2-1 record, the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers have been one of the more consistent teams so far in the ongoing Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference.
Led by their veteran trio of Jeanette Panaga, Jannine Navarro, and Djanel Cheng, CSB was able to open their season on a high note by winning their first two games against the San Sebastian Lady Stags and the TIP Lady Engineers. In addition, the team almost got their third straight win of the tourney in their five-set thriller against UST but CSB didn’t pull the necessary stops to do so.
“Medyo nakakapanghinayang ang talo [sa UST] kasi five-setter. Pero hindi ko ineexpect na ganyan ang ilalaro ng mga players ko,” CSB head coach Michael Cariño told Tiebreaker Times. “Alam ko lalaban sila pero hindi inexpect na ganito katindi aabot ang laban sa dulo. Pero, maganda na rin sa side namin kahit natalo kami kasi maganda ang pinakita ng mga bata.”
In the team rankings, Benilde is currently the second best team in blocks and digs by posting averages of 2.5 blocks per game and 7.42 digs per game. In addition, they are also the seventh best team in terms of spikes by posting a success rate of 29.59 percent. Rounding it out, CSB is the third best team in terms of reception by posting an efficiency rating of 18.64 percent and they are also the best setting team by having norms of 7.67 assists per set.
Dissecting the Trio
As mentioned above, Benilde is currently finding success by relying on their veteran trio of Panaga, Navarro and Cheng.
As of press time, Panaga is currently tied with Ateneo’s Jho Maraguinot as the third best scorer in the tourney with a total of 48 points. She is also the ninth best server by averaging 0.58 points per set and lastly, Panaga is currently the league’s best blocker with her average of 1.25 blocks per set.
On the other hand, Navarro is the league’s second best scorer, trailing only National University’s Jaja Santiago, with a total of 57 points scored. She is also the ninth best blocker by posting norms of 0.58 blocks per set. Furthermore, Navarro is the seventh best spiker in the league as she posts a spiking success rate of 36.23 percent after three games.
Last but not the least, Cheng is the leading setter so far in the league by averaging 7.5 excellent sets per set.
Aside from the ripple effect made by their flashy numbers, Cariño pointed out that his seniors provide the necessary veteran savvy and leadership whenever the team gets together. With a lot of volleyball milage by the three players, the lessons and experiences from it will surely be beneficial to every member of the Lady Blazers.
“Dapat kasi talagang ganoon ang performances nila palagi kasi sila ang seniors ko. Wala na akong ibang titingnan na ibang players na magdadala sa team kung hindi sila. Aside from Panaga and Navarro, pinakamalaking factor dito si Cheng,” Cariño remarked. “Without Cheng, hindi magiging smooth at hindi magiging madali para sa team ko. Credit ko sa kanilang tatlo kung bakit successful ang team.”
Gaining outside experience
Aside from being established players in the NCAA, Benilde’s trio also had a busy summer as Panaga, Navarro, and Cheng saw action in the 2015 Philippine Superliga All-Conference. Panaga and Navarro played for the Cignal HD Spikers while Cheng played for the Shopinas.com Lady Clickers.
“Ang experience nila doon, given na ibang klase na ang labanan doon. Dapat talaga kung ano ang nakuha nila doon, ipakita nila dapat dito sa team,” Cariño remarked about his players’ respective PSL stints.
In addition, Panaga also got her taste of international competition as she was a key part of the Philippine team that participated in the 18th Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship held at Beijing and Tianjin, China.
“Malaki kasi sa experience niya doon kasi ang kalaban iba. Dito sa Pilipinas, compared sa iba niyang kalaban sa ibang bansa, maganda ang performance niya. Hindi naman dapat na ma-pressure siya na maganda dapat ang ipapakita niya,” Cariño added. “Kahit paano, hindi ko naman sinasabi na dapat perfect ang laro niya, mas mataas talaga ang percentage niya at performance niya.”
The Tournament Continues
The Lady Blazers will now have a big test ahead of them as they are set to take on the still undefeated Ateneo Lady Eagles this coming Saturday, 12:45 pm, at the Filoil Flying V Arena. The game will be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11.
Note: All stats used in this article were based on the V-League’s official statistician, TMX Sports. All info used are updated since the last game day.