NCR-West outlasted Central Visayas in a gripping finale, 25-22, 26-24, 28-26, to retain the crown in the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Tournament-of-Champions before a big weekend crowd at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium Saturday.
The Big City tossers leaned on top guns Desire Cheng, who punched in 13 hits and one block, and Chester Ong, who produced eight points, and turned to their second unit to finish off their rivals from the South in their return engagement in the championship round.
“Our second six clicked just as our starters got tired and that was a major boost,” said NCR-West coach Jerry Yee as his wards celebrated at centercourt. NCR-West, represented by Hope Christian High School in the event sponsored by Shakey’s and organized by Metro Sports, actually got off to a slow start, allowing Central Visayas to take a 16-10 lead in the opening set.
But the defending champs regrouped and bravely fought back, drawing big shots from Cheng, Ong, and Isabel Molde to snatch the first frame. Cheng, NCR-West's team captain, continued to do her thing in the second set, smashing in to break a 24-24 standoff and put them at set point, before Molde sealed it with a power shot.
With the starters tiring, Yee sent in his subs and they provided the needed finishing kick. Ronjean Momo helped NCR-West overturn a 14-19 deficit and move up 24-23, completing her exploits with a point through the block that secured the championship for the Big City bets.
Therese Ramas and Sheena Quino had nine points apiece to lead CV, represented by stalwarts from Soutwestern U in Cebu. NCR-West and Central Visayas sealed a dream title duel after beating their respective opponents in the morning's crossover semis.
NCR-West recovered from a second set setback to blast their Western Visayas counterparts, 25-15, 21-25, 25-9, while CV survived a stubborn Southern Luzon squad, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20. Southern Luzon later nipped Western Visayas, 25-18, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19, to win the bronze in in the tournament backed by Toby’s Sports, Mikasa as official ball, Tune Hotels as official residence of T-of-C, Asics and Volley Prep.