San Beda averts collapse, outlasts winless Mapua in five sets to secure playoff for Final Four spot
San Beda blew a 2-0 set lead but recovered in the fifth set to keep Mapua winless. AP

SAN Beda College recovered late after blowing a 2-0 set lead to outlast Mapua Institute of Technology, 25-16, 25-15, 22-25, 20-25, 15-9, and secure at least a playoff for a semis spot in the NCAA Season 92 women’s volleyball tournament on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.

Francesca Racraquin finished with 16 points, while Satrianni Espiritu had 13 for the for the Red Lionesses, who improved to 6-3 at the fourth spot behind defending champion College of St. Benilde (6-2), Arellano University (7-1) and undefeated San Sebastian (7-0).

“Masaya kami nakapasok kami sa playoff pero mas masaya kami kung nasa Final Four na kami,” said head coach Nemesio Gavino, whose wards equaled the team’s best finish in 2014 behind the tandem of Frances Molina and Janine Marciano.

After winning the first two sets, Gavino went with his second stringers in the third and fourth sets and Mapua took advantage with Patricia Pena, Dianne Latayan and Danielle Ramilo leading the way for the Lady Cardinals.

The Intramuros-based squad gained momentum and took a 21-17 lead in the fourth set en route to forcing a decider.

With their Final Four hopes on the line, the Red Lionesses put up an early 8-3 lead, before the Lady Cardinals threatened, 9-11, but Racraquin sparked a 4-0 spurt to seal the win for San Beda and keep its victim winless in nine outings.

“Gusto ko rin kasi sana bigyan ang second stringers ko ng kumpiyansa kasi hindi naman pwedeng sa first six lang umasa ang team ko eh. Tulad nga nung nangyari kay Cesca, kailangan talagang ilabas kasi pagod na,” said Gavino.

“Noong dumating ang fifth set, sinabi ko sa kanila na kalimutan na ang lahat ng set mag-focus na lang sa last set para mawala lahat ng frustrations kasi nakatanbla sila eh,” he added.

Pena finished with 13 points for Mapua, while Latayan and Ramilo contributed 10 markers apiece.

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Meanwhile, in the men’s play, San Beda completed the Final Four cast after it shoved Mapua out of the semis race, 22-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-13.

The Red Lions ended the elimination round with a 7-2 card to secure at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four and the Cardinals ended their season with a 5-4 win-loss record.

SBC joined College of St. Benilde (7-1), Arellano University (6-2) and defending champion Perpetual Help (6-1), who is playing also ran Jose Rizal University as of posting, in the Final Four.   

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