Lady Chiefs go for the jugular, Lady Stags on survival mode
Arellano University seeks to finish off San Sebastian College and pocket its second NCAA women's volleyball crown.
Arellano University stared at a thrice-to-win disadvantage just a week ago heading into the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition Finals.
Now, the Lady Chiefs are just three set wins away from annexing their second title in three years.
The Legarda-based squad look to finish off the stunned San Sebastian Lady Stags Tuesday in Game 3 of the championship at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Arellano U coach Obet Javier wants his wards to keep their eyes on the prize and never relax one bit until they are declared winners of the match set at 3:30 p.m., airing live over ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream.
“Paulit-ulit kong sasabihin sa kanila ‘yun na hangga’t hindi pa dini-declare na panalo ka, wala kang karapatan na mag-celebrate at mag-relax,” said Javier, who is dedicating the series to his wife Amy Marie who died last week after a long battle with lung cancer.
The Season 90 champions are riding the crest of their 11-game winning streak after absorbing a five-set setback to the Lady Stags, which swept the elimination round to advance in the Finals outright with a thrice-to-beat advantage, to start their season campaign.
The Lady Chiefs pulled off a shocker to open the title series, 25-18, 25-20, 25-16, last week before outlasting reigning three-time league Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones, who scored 26 point, and the Lady Stags to walk away with a 18-25, 25-16, 25-11, 26-28, 15-13, victory Friday.
Skipper Rialen Sante, Mary Anne Esguerra, Andrea Marzan and power-hitter Jovielyn Prado are expected to once again deliver the goods for Arellano.
But the desperate Lady Stags are not losing hope to salvage their season and end a six-year title drought.
“Nabaligtad na ang sitwasyon eh, sila (Lady Chiefs) na ang twice-to-beat. Bumaligtad na,” said SSC-R head coach Roger Gorayeb, whose team has yet to score a kill block in the series. “Pero tingnan natin kung anong mangyayari. Sinasabi ko nga sa kanila parati na ako may chance pa ako na mag-champion next year pero ang mga ga-graduate wala na. Mas masarap na darating yung araw na kahit isang championship lang yan mapag-uusapan niyo hanggang sa pagtanda n’yo.”
Outgoing Soltones has been doing her part to carry the team but middles Joyce Sta. Rita, Katherine Villegas and other hitters Nikka Dalisay and Dangie Encarnacion need to step up to avoid a repeat of their heartbreaking upset last year when SSC-R squandered a thrice-to-beat advantage against College of St. Benilde in four games.
Game 4 is on Thursday if needed.
In the juniors division, defending champion Perpetual Help look to collect their third straight title at 12:00 noon against Lyceum of the Philippines.
The Junior Altas routed LPU, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22, in Game 1 and then eked out a come-from-behind 25-16, 23-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-10 triumph in Game 2.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles