Lady Stags, Lady Chiefs clash in Finals opener
Mark Escarlote on Feb 06, 2017 07:49 PM
Arellano University face a daunting challenge to overcome San Sebastian College's thrice-to-beat Finals advantage.
Unbeaten San Sebastian College and Arellano University clash Tuesday to begin their 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition Finals at The Arena in San Juan.
Opening serve is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live over ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23 and ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/ncaa.
The Lady Stags, for the second straight year, are armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage after sweeping the 9-game elimination round that propelled them to the championship round.
But SSC-R head coach Roger Gorayeb doesn’t see their advantage as an assurance to finally end a six-year drought.
“Hindi ko nakikita na advantage talaga ang thrice-to-beat advantage na yan kasi we still have to win two games. Buti sana kung isang panalo lang champion ka na,” said Gorayeb, who is looking to steer the Lady Stags to their 24th title.
Goarayeb has all the reasons to think so.
The Recto-based squad also carried the same championship incentive last year but College of St. Benilde pulled off a historical upset beating SSC-R thrice in four epic games.
Graduating reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones for the last time will try to lead the Lady Stags to the throne and finally capture the elusive crown before she takes her final bow.
“Gutom na gutom na ako sa championship. Sobrang hindi ko na alam ang gagawin ko kung hindi pa ako magtsa-champion ngayon,” said Soltones, who scored 25 points in SSC-R’s 23-25, 26-28, 25-19, 25-18, 15-12 win over the Lady Chiefs in their season opener.
Soltones will have Katherine Villegas, Denice Lim and Joyce Sta. Rita to support her on offense.
Arellano, meanwhile, is on a nine-game winning run since including a marathon 19-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-13, 15-9 stepladder semifinals win Friday to dethrone the Lady Blazers.
The Lady Chiefs, champions of Season 90, will bank on their veteran crew led Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan and Rialen Sante to duplicate the same feat CSB did last year.
“Siguro ang ginawa ng Benilde, napaganda ang nagawa nila and magsisilbing motivation sa amin yun eh, aral sa amin ‘yun,” said AU coach Obet Javier. “Hindi naman masamang manggaya.”
Game 2 is on Friday.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles