Lady Stags, Lady Blazers begin NCAA volleyball title duel
Mark Escarlote on Jan 19, 2016 08:15 AM
San Sebastian and College of St. Benilde open their 91st NCAA women's volleyball championship series Tuesday.
Thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags and College of St. Benilde Lady Blazers begin their quest to quench their thirst for the crown on Tuesday in Game One the 91st NCAA women's volleyball Finals at The Arena in San Juan.
Opening serve of the match is at 4:00 p.m. and will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 and ABS-CBN Sports+Action HD Channel 166 and also via livestream at sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/ncaa.
The Lady Stags hold a huge edge over the Lady Blazers in the two schools’ first championship meeting since Season 85. SSC-R swept the 9-game elimination round to advance outright to the Finals and need only to win two games to take the title back to their Recto campus since the Lady Stags won it all back in 2010.
Still SSC-R head coach Roger Gorayeb is not taking CSB lightly. He wants to draw the first blood.
“Gusto ko ‘yung first game makuha na namin para at least ‘yung advantage laging nasa amin,” said the multi-titled mentor looking to steer the Lady Stags to their 24th crown overall.
The Lady Stags gored the taller Lady Blazers, 25-20, 22-25, 25-17, 25-18, last January 10 to end their elimination round campaign with a clean sweep to secure the first championship seat. It is SSC-R’s third straight Finals appearance.
SSC-R will bank on reigning Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones, Nikka Dalisay, Joyce Sta. Rita, Jolina Labiano, setter Vira Guillema and libero Alyssa Eroa
“Ayokong alisin ‘yung advantage on our side we have to maintain it kasi malakas ang kalaban, malalaki e,” added Gorayeb, who gave SSC-R 22 titles under his watch. “Babawian na lang namin sa depensa.”
While the Lady Stags are fresh from a weeklong rest, the Lady Blazers are coming off a long and hard journey to the Finals.
The Macky Carino-mentored team escaped two do or die games in the stepladder semifinals after closing the elims with two straight losses.
CSB, the fourth seeded team, survived No. 3 seed Perpetual Help, 16-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-21, last Tuesday before dragging the Arellano University Lady Chiefs out of the throne in a shocking 25-20, 25-22, 25-23, victory to book a return trip to the championship round after six long years.
The Taft-based squad has yet to score a title for their school and were denied by SSC-R three times before in the Finals.
“Medyo mabigat din ang kalaban namin na San Sebastian. Sila nakapahinga, kami dire-diretso (ang laro),” said CSB third year mentor Carino.
He added that though they had a short rest compared to SSC-R, he believes that they have the momentum, a swelling morale and are peaking at the right time.
“(May) advantage naman kami na at least hindi kami nakapagpahinga ng ganoon kahaba,” Carino said. “Kasi ang team ko ngayon paangat e. Hindi pa nila kami nakakalaban ulit. Nakalaban lang nila kami eliminations. Sa tingin kami ang may pinakamataas na kompiyansa ngayon.”
Jeanette Panaga, Janine Navarro, Ranya Musa, setter Djanel Cheng and libero Melanie Torres will be CSB’s main weapons to counter the arsenal of SSC-R.
Game 2 is on Friday and if necessary, Game 3 is on January 26 while Game 4 is on January 29.
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