ARELLANO outduelled San Sebastian, 18-25, 25-16, 25-11 26-28, 15-13, on Friday to move a win away from an unlikely championship in the NCAA Season 92 women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Chiefs, who pulled off a straight-set win in Game One of the finals, showed nerves of steel this time in a five-set thriller that went down to the wire to leave the Lady Stags on the ropes.
Team captain Rialen Sante led AU with 15 points, while getting support from Jovielyn Prado with 13 markers, Andrea Marzan added 11 and Mary Anne Esguerra chipped in 10.
Arellano can wrap up the championship on Tuesday after coming in as the underdogs against an SSC team that swept the eliminations to earn a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals.
The Lady Chiefs squandered two match points in the fourth set but got their acts together in the deciding set, clinching the win when a spike by the Lady Stags' Dangie Encarnacion sailed wide.
“Nahirapan kami talaga sa Baste kaya lang ang naging ano namin, nawala si Prado. Kung kailan crucial, doon siya nawala. Mahirap kasi yung ganun. Buti na lang nung last minute naisahan namin yung gitna,” said AU coach Obet Javier.
AU reached three match points in the fourth set but three-time MVP Grethcel Soltones refused to give up and forced a deciding set.
“Breaks of the game na lang siguro. Mas lamang lang kami ng konti sa kundisyon pero nakita namin talagang tinatrabaho ni Grethcel ‘yung team niya. Dapat ganun dapat eh, ‘yung attitude ni Grethcek na gustong gusto manalo,” said Javier.
But Javier was quick to remind his wards that the series is far from over.
The veteran mentor stressed that he wants to avoid complacency and overconfidence in his team.
“Sa pamamagitan ng reminder, paulit ulit kong sasabihin sa kanila na hanggat ‘di pa dinedeclare na panalo, wala tayong karapatan magcelebrate at magrelax,” he said.
“Lagi ko namang ireremind sa kanila. Ganyan ‘yung sakit namin lalo pag naglalaro kami ng lamang ng dalawang set. ‘Yun ‘yung nakakatakot,” he added.
Soltones, who was awarded her third MVP right before the match, led SSC with 26 points, built on 25 kills from 85 attempts.
But the Recto-based squad could not match AU’s defense at the net as the SSC belles failed to register a block point for the second consecutive game.