Soltones serves up inspiration as Lady Stags beat Benilde to stay alive in NCAA finals
Gretcel Soltones led the way for the Lady Stags. Jaime Campos

GRETCEL Soltones led the way as San Sebastian stayed alive in the NCAA women's volleyball finals with a four-set win over College of St. Benilde at The Arena in San Juan on Tuesday.

SSC, which enjoys a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals after a sweep of the eliminations, bounced back from losses in Games One and Two to force a winner-take-all match on Thursday beginning at 3:30 p.m.

An inspired Soltones took charge from start to finish, finishing with 31 points after a tearful reunion with her estranged mother who she had last seen 13 years ago.

“Kinonsensiya ko lang sila. Sabi ko, ibibigay niyo ba ng ganun-ganon lang sa kanila (Benilde ang korona)? Deserving naman kayo dyan (sa Finals) eh,” said SSC coach Roger Gorayeb.

“Bakit ‘yung iba pag naglalaro na name-mental block na, ‘yun ang problema ko sa kanila eh, hindi ‘yung physical,” he added. “Kapag pumasok sa laro ‘yun ang bigat, lalo ganyan hindi naman kami ganoon kalalaki, so kailangan tumulong lahat.”

Katherine Villegas came with 11 points, while Nikka Dalisay and Joyce Sta. Rita added eight markers apiece and Denice Lim and Dangie Encarnacion combined for 12 points to back up Soltones.

Gorayeb said he made sure that win or lose, the Lady Stags will leave the venue with their heads high.

“Kanina kasi naghaharutan kaming lahat,” said Gorayeb. “Sabi ko, kahit matalo tayo ngayon basta ibinigay niyo ang lahat ng pwede niyong ibigay, makakalabas tayo dito ng mataas ang noo natin.”

Janine Navarro led CSB with 16 points, while Jeanette Panaga and Ranya Musa contributed 13 markers each.

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