DEFENDING champion University of Perpetual Help turned back Arellano University, 25-22, 26-28, 25-16, 25-23, to book a return trip to the finals of the 88th NCAA women's volleyball tournament at the Arena in San Juan on Monday.
The Lady Altas pulled away from a 21-all standoff with a run of four straight points capped by a Sandra delos Santos winner to seal their second straight win in the short, single-round semifinals and stay on track for back-to-back titles.
"Siguro kumapit lang talaga mga bata na talagang gusto manalo," said UPH coach Jason Sapin. "Sana maka-back-to-back (championships) kami."
Delos Santos and Royse Tubino each had 18 points to pace the Lady Altas while team captain April Anne Sartin came away with 17, from 16 spikes and one service ace, and Norie Jane Diaz had 14.
Arellano fell to 1-1 (win-loss) in the company of San Sebastian, which passed through the eye of the needle before beating Emilio Aguinaldo College, 14-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13 in the day’s other match.
The two teams collide for the other seat in the finals when they clash at the end of the semis on Thursday.
Gretchel Soltones had 25 points, from 24 spikes and one service ace, as he led the Lady Stags back from a two-set deficit. She also held the fort in the closely fought fifth set, earning praise from SSC coach Clint Malazo.
"Si Gretchel kasi palaban at saka buo ang loob niya. Isa siya sa mga lumalaban," said Malazo. "Si Gretchel pagdating sa iskoran at sa pagtaas ng morale ng team, dun sya leader."
SSC lost in almost every department but capitalized on EAC's 42 team errors.
EAC absorbed its second loss and bowed out of contention.