COLLEGE of Saint Benilde is going to the semifinals after a three-year absence as it made short work of Letran, 25-18, 25-19, 25-14, on Thursday in the NCAA women's volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Jeanette Panaga led the Lady Blazers with 15 points, including two service aces, and Therese Veronas added 13.
The Taft-based spikers were in control almost the entire game and sealed the win in just 58 minutes to finish the elimination round with a 7-2 win-loss card.
St. Benilde is now tied for second with two-time defending champion University of Perpetual Help, behind league leading Arellano (7-1).
The Lady Blazers gave San Sebastian College (6-2) an automatic semifinal berth, while eliminating San Beda College (6-3) in the process.
The semifinal cast stays regardless of the outcome of the final elimination-round match between Arellano and San Sebastian on Friday.
An Arellano win will give San Sebastian a 6-3 record, same as San Beda, but the Lady Stags would retain the No. 4 spot due to the winner over the other rule. San Sebastian edged San Beda in five sets in their elimination-round match.
A San Sebastian victory, on the other hand, will push the Lady Stags to 7-2 in a tie with St. Benilde and Perpetual Help.
The single-round semifinals affair starts on Monday.
St. Benilde's last semis appearance was in 2010 when they reached the finals where they bowed to San Sebastian in three matches.
"Matagal na ring hindi kami nakapasok sa semifinals. Ang aim namin ay lumaban naman sa championship, paghahandaan talaga namin yung mga kalaban namin," said St. Benilde rookie coach Macky Cariño.
"Nagsipag pa yung mga players ko. Talagang nag-doble ng effort during training at naging mahaba ang pasensiya nila at bawat isa nag-contribute. I don't want na mag-focus sa anim ko lang, gusto ko
lahat mapakinabangan. Everybody cooperated," he added.
Kathleen Barrinuevo had 12 points, while Monique Pablo and Angelica Santos added five apiece for Letran, which closed out its season tied with Mapua and JRU in last place at 1-8.
Meanwhile, Janine Marciano came up with 23 points in her final collegiate game for the San Beda as it bested Jose Rizal University, 25-18, 25-19, 25-14. The Red Lionesses halted a three-game slump and ended their season on a high note.
Rosalie Pepito had seven points for the Lady Bombers.