Lady Chiefs survive thriller, one win away from the title
Arellano University's Andrea Marzan tips the ball over the defense of San Sebastian College's Grethcel Soltones.
Arellano University spoiled the historic third straight Most Valuable Player award of San Sebastian College star Grethcel Soltones Friday when the Lady Chiefs pushed the once thrice-to-beat Lady Stags on the brink of another championship collapse.
The Lady Chiefs turned back the Lady Stags, 18-25, 25-16, 25-11, 26-28, 15-13, in an exciting thriller in the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan to move to a win away from reclaiming the throne they last held two years ago.
Arellano, which is on an 11-game winning streak, kept its composure in a very tight fifth set breaking a 13-all deadlock with Regine Arocha’s off speed. With the crowd already at its feet, SSC-R was the first to fold from tremendous pressure after Dangie Encarnacion’s wide attack.
Skipper Rialen Sante smashed 13 attacks for 15 points while Jovielyn Prado, who was named 2nd Best Outside Spiker, scored 13 point for the Lady Chiefs. Andrea Marzan had 11 markers while Mary Anne Esguerra got 10 points for Arellano U, which can close the series on Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
"Nahirapan kami talaga sa Baste," Lady Chiefs coach Obet Javier admitted. "Kaya lang ang naging (problema) namin nawala si Prado kung kailan crucial. Doon siya nawala. Mahirap kasi 'yung ganun buti na lang nu'ng last minute naisahan namin yung gitna."
The Lady Chiefs pulled off a shocker last Tuesday in a 25-18, 25-20, 25-16, win in the series opener that snapped SSC-R’s nine-game winning streak that propelled the Lady Stags straight to the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage.
Soltones toiled for 26 points to lead the Lady Stags, which gave away an awful 51 points to Arellano off their errors. The graduating player, who also won the 1st Best Outside Hitter, needed 85 attempts to get her 25 kills. Soltones was all over the floor with 20 digs and 20 excellent receptions but her hardwork went into naught with another devastating loss.
Middle hitter Katherine Villegas bounced back from a three-point outing in Game 1 with 11 points but SSC-R failed to score a kill block for the second straight game.
SSC-R counterattacked in the fourth set after going down 1-2 in the match.
The Lady Chiefs held on down the stretch behind Rialen Sante and Jovielyn Prado’s inspired play to comeback from a 19-21 deficit to a 23-22 lead after Arellano’s solid block on Soltones. The Lady Stags tied it at 23 but a service error by birthday girl Joyce Sta. Rita put the Lady Chiefs at match point.
Soltones saved a match point, Mary Anne Esguerra gave the advantage back to Arellano but an error by the Lady Chiefs tied the set to 25. A couple of errors set up the frame to a thrilling windup with Soltones refusing to give up to send the match to a decider.
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