COLLEGE of St. Benilde avoided a huge collapse and edged Southwestern University 25-23, 25-23, 15-25, 23-25, 15-9 on Tuesday in the Shakey's V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Blazers, third in the recent NCAA volleyball tournament, banked on Maureen Loren and guest player Iumi Yangco who delivered the goods in the final set to frustrate the rallying Lady Cobras and kick off their campaign in the league on a winning note.
After dropping the third set, St. Benilde had a chance to wrap it all up in the fourth after erecting a 23-19 lead. But SWU, champion in the Cebu collegiate volleyball meet, struck back and took the last six points behind Lady Cobras' reinforcement Lutgarda Malaluan to send the match into a deciding fifth set.
The Lady Blazers put their act together as Loren, Yangco and the power-hitting pair of Therese Veronas and Jeanette Panaga took turns in blasting the hits that the Lady Cobras failed to return.
“After we lost the fourth set where we should have won, I told them not to take our opponents lightly in the fifth," said St. Benilde coach Michael Carino.
The Taft-based squad tries to wrest solo lead on Thursday when it faces Arellano University, which won its first two matches.
Interestingly, it will serve as a grudge match between two teams that wound up second and third in the last NCAA season won by the Lady Altas.
"That's a game to watch out and prepare for," said Carino.
Veronas and Panaga led the Lady Blazers with a combined 44-hit performance, including 33 on kills. Loren and Yongco chipped in with 16 and eight, respectively.
The Lady Cobras, who were led by Janelle Cabahug's 17, Malaluan's 13 and Dyan Darantinao's 10, now hold a 1-2 win-loss record.