FOURTH placer University of Perpetual Help took down twice-to-beat top seed College of Saint Benilde, 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, to live another day in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball Final Four on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Altas never wavered and even shocked the Lady Blazers with a strong fourth-set comeback to force a rubber match on Tuesday next week at 4 p.m., where the winner advances to the best-of-three Finals against defending champion Arellano University.
Cindy Imbo was on point from the service line in Perpetual’s fourth-set comeback from a 14-22 deficit, nailing two service aces and delivering the strong serves that powered the Lady Altas’ 11-1 run to survive another game.
Imbo finished with 19 points built on 16 spikes and three service aces and also protected the floor with 17 digs and 16 excellent receptions.
“Actually habang nagse-serve talaga ako, nagpe-pray ako kay God na kaya pa naming humabol, hindi kami susuko. So, ginawan po namin talaga ng paraan para makahabol,” Imbo said after the big win that halted St. Benilde’s eight-game winning streak.
Perpetual Help head coach Macky Cariño, the former mentor of St. Benilde that delivered the school’s championship in Season 91 from fourth place, was glad that the character of his wards prevailed in the end, especially Imbo.
“Fortunately, maganda yung kinalabasan plus hinabol pa ng hinabol ni Cindy yung service,” Cariño said. “Target ng target. Siguro sa ginawa naming yun, yung character namin that time, yun ang nagpanalo.”
Jenny Gaviola was also instrumental scattering eight kills, four blocks and three aces for 15 points, while Jhona Rosal added 12 markers.
After surprising the league leaders by winning the first two sets, Perpetual Help flirted with disaster losing to St. Benilde in the third set and went down 14-22 in the fourth frame.
But the Lady Altas got their acts together and unloaded eight straight points to tie the game with coach Cariño making certain adjustments of fielding Jowie Verzosa and back-up setter Angelou Castillo for Rosal and Necelle Gual.
The Lady Blazers regained the lead 23-22 from Castillo’s miscue only to commit three straight errors of their 31 total miscues in the game that allowed the Lady Altas to force a decider.
“Sobrang nag-gamble na ako. Ipinasok ko na yung dalawa. Medyo off na ang laro ni Rosal tapos si Chinchin (Gual) basang-basa na ng kalaban,” said Cariño after the big win over his former team Benilde. “Ang ginawa ko para hindi na masyado mabasa ipinalit ko na si Jowie saka yung Castillo. Sugal na ‘yun eh. Isinugal ko na talaga kung anong mangyari.”
Rachel Anne Austero led St. Benilde with 18 points off 11 spikes, six blocks and an ace. Klarisa Abriam chipped in 15 hits, while Marites Pablo had 12 markers including 26 digs and 10 receptions only for them to squander their twice-to-beat incentive.