MANILA, Philippines - St. Benilde checked its skid in time, outpointing Southwestern U in the deciding set to hack out a 25-23, 25-23, 15-25, 23-25, 15-9 victory and seize solo second in Group A of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
The Lady Blazers, who finished third in the last NCAA volley wars behind champions the Perpetual’s Lady Altas and runners-up the Arellano U’s Lady Chiefs, banked on Maureen Loren and guest player Iumi Yangco, who delivered the goods in the final set to frustrate the rallying Lady Cobras and kick off their campaign in the league on an inspiring note.
After dropping the third set, St. Benilde had a chance to wrap it all up in the fourth after erecting a 23-19 lead. But SWU, the reigning champion in CESAFI back home in Cebu, struck back and took the last six points behind Lady Cobras’ reinforcement Lutgarda Malaluan to send the match into a deciding fifth set.
But the Lady Blazers put their act together as Loren, Yangco and the power-hitting pair of Therese Veronas and Jeanette Panaga took turns in blasting the hits that the Lady Cobras had failed to return.
“After we lost the fourth set where we should have won, I told them not to take our opponents for granted in the fifth,” said St. Benilde coach Michael Carino.
The Taft-based squad, which has had so-so finishes in past campaigns in the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil, tries to wrest the solo lead tomorrow as it faces off with Arellano U, which swept its first two games.
San Sebastian bucked the absence of top hitter Gretchel Soltones and the loss of guest player Maruja Banaticla to injury as it pulled through in another five-setter, the fourth straight since Sunday, edging reigning NCAA champion Perpetual Help, 25-18, 17-25, 27-25, 23-25, 15-13, in the other game.
Czarina Verbano came away with 19 hits while Jolina Labiano and guest setter Ryzabelle Devandera and Bea Uy backed her up with 16, 15 and 11 markers, respectively, as the Lady Stags moved to No. 3 with a 1-1 card in Group B. The Lady Altas fell to their second straight loss.
Soltones sustained an ankle injury against Far Eastern U last week and failed to see action while the crisp-hitting Banaticla tweaked an ankle early in the opener, came back to finish the set, returned in the second before she was pulled out again due to recurring pain. The former UST stalwart finished with six hits.
The Lady Altas, who were led by Jamela Suyat’s 21 and Norie Jane Diaz’s 17, fell to their second straight setback.