Perpetual completes Final Four cast, sends CSB packing
University of Perpetual Help booked the no. 3 seed in the Final Four after showing College of St. Benilde the exit door.
University of Perpetual Help made a return trip to the semifinals after falling short last year at the expense of College of St. Benilde, 27-25, 25-23, 11-25, 32-30, Tuesday as the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition elimination round came to a close at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Altas leaned on the clutch plays of Jowie Albert Versoza to escape an error-laden closing stretch of the fourth set to complete the Final Four cast.
Perpetual closed the elims with a 7-2 win-loss record to take the no. 3 spot and in the process towed Jose Rizal University into its first Final Four stint.
The Lady Altas will take on twice-to-beat San Beda in the semis starting Friday. Twice-to-beat and repeat-seeking Arellano U will face the Lady Bombers in the Final Four.
“Gusto namin talagang makuha ang panalo na ito. Itong game kasi namin against CSB kasi talagang yun ang magde-determine kung sino ang papasok sa semifinals,” said Perpetual coach Macky Carino, who booted out the team that he steered to its first championship in Season 91. “Ayoko na kasi ng playoff, sinabihan ko sila noong training na i-treat namin ito na pinakahuling game namin.”
Cindy Imbo led the Las Pinas-based squad with 16 points with 14 coming off kills while Lourdes Clemente had 15 markers anchored on eight attacks, six kill blocks and an ace for Perpetual, who survived the match despite throwing away 45 points off errors.
After a dismal third set that extended the match, the Lady Altas needed to save seven set points before Versoza took matters on her own hands to score the game-clinching back-to-back off the block kills to seal the win in the one-hour, 59-minute duel.
Diane Ventura finished with 14 points while graduating team captain Ranya Musa closed her college career with 13 markers off nine kills, three kill blocks and an ace for the Lady Blazers, who ended their campaign with a 5-4 mark tied with San Sebastian College.
Rachel Austero posted 11 points for CSB, which fell short of making it into the semis for the first time in five seasons.
Meanwhile, Perpetual completed an elimination round sweep in the men's division to advance in the best-of-three Finals outright after outlasting defending champion CSB, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 23-25, 15-9.
The Altas closed the elims with a perfect 9-0 slate and will await its opponent in the Finals, which will open on February 16.
Joebert Almodiel powered Perpetual with 23 points including 21 off kills while Ridzuan Muhali registered 15 markers.
The Blazers absorbed its third loss in nine games and will take on San Beda in the first knockout stepladder semis on Friday. Arellano University will face the survivor of the match for the last Finals seat.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles