“Sinabi ko sa mga players ko, last two games talo kami, so kailangan gumawa kami ng paraan para andun tayo sa side na nananalo tayo,” De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers head coach Macky Cariño told his team prior to stepping on the court.
Thus, in what others might see as a non-bearing game, the third-place playoff became the defending champions’ vehicle to regain confidence after repulsing the equally young San Beda College Lady Red Spikers in four sets, 25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-18, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The defending champions once more were bannered by middle hitters Jeanette Panaga and Ranya Musa, who combined for 29 markers.
The Lady Blazers cruised past the Lady Red Spikers in the opening set as the latter grasp for form in defense.
In the second set, the red-shirts tried to keep in step with the Taft-based side after their second-stringers showed grit. Nonetheless, Panaga and company had the answer as Arianne Daguil sent her team to a 2-0 lead.
The Red Spikers, nonetheless, used this failed attempt of clinch a set to gain momentum in the third. The Mendiola-based lady spikers pounced on the reception problems of Saint Benilde with Nieza Viray on the service line. The San Beda wing spiker then took it to herself, finishing the set off a backrow hit and a service ace.
However, with coach Cariño’s words in mind, the Lady Blazers regrouped and gained a huge 8-3 lead in the fourth set.
Cesca Racraquin tried to rally San Beda back into the game, but Panaga eventually finished the match with a quick attack.
After the game, Cariño shared that the Blazers still needs to correct some things. “Most especially sa combination attack ko kasi yung setter ko medyo bata pa. So every time sa transition alam yung gagawin.”
“Yung mga simpleng mali, like receive. Dun kami natalo sa San Sebastian eh. Tinatarget-target kami,” he added.
Racraquin and Viray finished with 12 points each for the girls in red.
The stepladder semifinals start on Tuesday, January 31 with the rematch of the very same teams. The winner of that upcoming match will then moved on to face twice-to-beat Arellano Lady Chiefs at a later date.
CSB 3 – Panaga 17, Musa 12, Enginco 9, Austero 7, Cardiente 6, Daguil 5, Santillan 1, Umali 1, Dolorito 0, Ventura 0, Lim 0, Avila 0, Torres L, Sulit L.
SBC 1 – C. Racraquin 12, N. Viray 12, Espiritu 7, J. Viray 5, Cuevas 4, Amador 4, Domingo 1, Manuel 1, Tannagan 1, Garcia 1, Rebolledo 1, Laguna 1, D. Racraquin L, Zamudio L.