SOUTHWESTERN University wound up on top after a see-saw battle with St. Louis University, 25-20, 23-25, 25-15, 21-25, 19-17, in the First Conference of the Shakey's V-League Season 11 at The Arena in San Juan on Tuesday.
Marlyn Llagoso came up with 19 points, including eight blocks, as the Lady Cobras sealed the win in two hours and 13 minutes.
Guest player Lutgarda Malaluan added 15, while Janelle Cabahug and Sheena Quino had 12 apiece for the reigning Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) champions.
It is the second time SWU is seeing action in the V-League, but only Llagoso and Neresa Villanueva are left from the team that competed in 2012.
“Sabi ko lang sa mga bata kung ano ang kaya nila ibigay na nila,” said SWU coach Jordan Paca.
“Lahat kasi 'yan beginners, sina Llagoso at Villanueva lang ang veterans ko,” he added. “Kaya ang sabi ko sa mga seniors dalhin ang mga rookies.”
The Lady Cobras were up by one 11-10 in the deciding set when Roxanne Almonte and Elaine Daniel worked together to position the Lady Navigators at match point 14-12.
“Noong fifth set sabi ko na sa kanila kumapit lang kayo, kung gusto niyo manalo kapit lang,” said Paca.
SWU came up with a 3-0 spurt to snatch the lead 15-14 behind Llagoso, Necca dela Llana and Loida Abellana, only to throw away two points from its errors, and SLU capitalized, 16-15.
But the Cebu-based Lady Cobras leaned on to a strong finish and came with a 4-1 mini run to end the agony of the Lady Navigators.
"Basta tulung-tulong lang, kasi kung hindi minsan aangat, minsan hahabol," said Paca.
SWU is now tied with Ateneo for the early lead in Group A.
Krissan Tsuchiya finished with 26 points from 22 spikes, two blocks and two service aces for St. Louis, while Colleen Rossi and Almonte added 13 and 10, respectively.
SLU and Adamson are currently at the bottom (0-1).