PUTTING a glimmer of hope on their dimming semifinals chances, San Beda University head coach Nemesio Gavino Jr. wants the Lady Red Spikers to force a playoff for the last semifinals berth for them to gain more exposure and experience in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.
With one more semis spot remaining as Adamson, FEU and UST already secured the first three berths, San Beda will be facing University of the Philippines in a pivotal Sunday showdown with its fate on the line.
Gavino is motivating his players to extend their run, which will serve as a great buildup for them in the NCAA Season 94 in November.
“Malaking bagay sa amin ‘yun kung makakuha kami ng playoff man lang,” said Gavino after their pivotal 25-19, 25-15, 9-25, 25-21 victory over University of Perpetual Help on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Kailangan talunin yung UP kasi humahaba yung laro mas maganda exposure para sa amin kasi semifinals mas mabigat ‘yung laban eh.”
But even if San Beda beats UP on Sunday, a triple tie at fourth place might occur between them and College of Saint Benilde, which needs to win against Perpetual Help on Saturday.
The two teams with the highest points will clash in a do-or-die playoff for the last semis berth on Wednesday next week.
UP has the quotient advantage with a 3-3 win-loss record and 10 points, only needing to win its last elimination game to complete the Final Four cast, while San Beda and St. Benilde have identical 2-4 cards and seven markers each.
The Lady Red Spikers, who have to win in no more than four sets against the Lady Maroons on Sunday to force a playoff, also need a favor from the ousted Lady Altas to spoil the Lady Blazers or at least force a five-setter.
Despite the complicated scenario ahead, Gavino just wants his wards bannered by star spiker Cesca Racraquin, twins Nieza and Ela Viray, Sattriani Espiritu, and new setter Lynne Matias to focus on themselves first, particularly in closing out games, their maturity and team chemistry.
“‘Yung problema kasi namin ‘yung pagclose out ng game talaga e. So ‘yung maturity, tapos ‘yung setter namin nagaadjust pa kasi bago,” Gavino said. “So ‘yun talaga ‘yung tinatrabaho namin. Pero may koneksyon naman kailangan lang namin maging komportable sa isa’t isa.”
“Sa mental (aspect) na kasi ‘yan e, so para sa akin utak talaga, so ‘yung majority sa game kailangan yun yung gumana para yung closet out ng game talagang maganda,” he added.
Even though they are facing an intimidating UAAP team, the NCAA reigning silver medalists are out to put a gallant fight and prove that anything is possible.
“Medyo mabigat yung laban sa UP kasi UAAP team,” Gavino said. “Per parehas namang volleyball ‘yung laro so siguro prepare lang kami sa training para sa kanila at para mabigyan namin ng magandang laban.”