The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Lady Blazers snatched the advantage in the best-of-three series of the NCAA Season 97 women’s volleyball finals after sweeping the defending champions Arellano University (AU) Lady Chiefs, 25-21, 25-11, 25-10, on Wednesday, July 20, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Coming from a 12-day break, the Lady Blazers hardly showed any hint of complacency as they opened the game with a 4-0 run until Lady Chief team captain Carla Donato ushered her team to stop the bleeding and keep pace with the Lady Blazers, 11-9. Jitters started to kick into the Lady Blazers when team captain Mycah Go committed two consecutive errors that tied the lead to 11, followed by a deadly spike by AU rookie Pauline De Guzman which gave the Lady Chiefs their first lead, 11-12. But Go quickly redeemed herself and led her squad to pull off a reversal with two consecutive powerful hits to close the first set, 25-21.
The Lady Blazers, despite being plagued with eight errors in the first set, came off fiercer the second time around and unleashed their usual dominant flair storming to 10-4. Aching to stop the bleeding, the Lady Chiefs tightly gripped on their blockings to chase the unbeaten green squad, 17-9, but Benilde took every opportunity to impose their might with Gayle Pascual stepping up for her squad and slamming for a 20-10 advantage. Michelle Gamit fueled the team’s sterling run by knocking down the Lady Chiefs with two kill-blocks to end the second frame, 25-11.
After tucking away the second set, the Taft squad stretched their dominance even during the early third set with a four-point lead, 4-1. The Lady Chiefs tried to swing the momentum to their favor after drilling back-to-back points, but they simply could not break the icy composure of the Lady Blazers who hung tough and did not allow the Arellano squad to threaten, 12-6. Although the Lady Blazers delivered in every aspect, their impressive blockings throughout the game served as the key to locking their first win in the best-of-three finals.
Benilde fire power Pascual topped the scoreboard with 17 points, 13 attacks, and three blocks, while Go chipped in eight points, 12 digs, and four excellent receptions. Cloanne Mondoñedo tossed 14 excellent sets as Gamit and Jade Gentapa logged 11 and seven points, respectively.
The Benilde Lady Blazers will be facing the Lady Chiefs for Game 2 on Friday, July 22, at 2 p.m., at the same venue with a live telecast on GTV, GMA Sports, and NCAA Philippines.
DLS-CSB (3): Pascual 17, Gamit 11, Go 8, Gentapa 7, Ondangan 4, Basarte 3, Mondoñedo 0, Avilla 2, Apostol 1, Dizon 0, Estenzo 0, Mondejar 0, Salmon 0.
AU (0): Donato 9, Abay 7, Bello 4, Dino 4, De Guzman 3, Sasuman 1, San Gregorio 0, Paralejas 0, Adante 0, Cuenca 0, Daisog 0,, Manuntag 0, Matawaran 0, Pecana 0
Set Scores: 25-21, 25-11, 25-10