Benilde Lady Blazers dispatch Arellano, earn shot at San Sebastian in NCAA volleyball finals
The Lady Spikers celebrate the surprisingly one-sided victory. Jaime Campos

COLLEGE of St. Benilde beat defending champion Arellano, 25-20, 25-22, 25-23, in the stepladder semifinals to reach the NCAA women’s volleyball finals for the first time in seven years.

Jeanette Panaga fired 21 points for CSB while Janine Navarro added 11 in a surprisingly one-sided match that took an hour and 26 minutes at The Arena in San Juan on Friday.

Lady Blazers mentor Macky Carino got what he wanted but admitted he was not expecting an easy win.

“Hindi (ko expected na three sets) kasi alam ko lalaban talaga ‘yung Arellano eh, ibibigay talaga nila ang best nila sa araw na ito eh,” he said. “Alam ko mananalo ako, kumpyansa ako, pero hindi ganoon na three sets lang.”

The Lady Blazers, who also beat Perpetual at the start of the stepladder semis, not get a shot at a San Sebastian team that will enjoy thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals after a sweep of the eliminations.

The finals begins on Tuesday.

“‘Yun lang gusto namin, makabalik sa mga taong tumalo sa amin sa eliminations,” he said after the vengeful win over eliminations-round tormentor Arellano.

“’Yun ang pinaka-motivation ko sa kanila, at the same time ‘yung makabalik ulit ang CSB sa finals. Malay mo mag-finals, mag-champion.”

CSB last reached the Finals in 2009 and coincidentally against San Sebatian in a series that went to three matches.

CJ Rosario and Jovielyn Prado finished with 13 points for Arellano, while Danna Henson added 10.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada