The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Lady Blazers successfully defended their women’s volleyball crown after sweeping the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Lady Pirates in Game 2 of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Finals, 3-0, on April 14, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
The Lady Blazers initiated their championship run with an early 4-0 run courtesy of Cloanne Mondoñedo and Mich Gamit. Defensive efforts also prevailed from the back-to-back champions as Zamantha Nolasco contributed three consecutive blocks to deny LPU’s attacks. Benilde led by as much as six points before the Lady Pirates made their run to lessen the deficit to four. Two long rallies towards the dying moments of the set gave Benilde a comfortable cushion at 22-16. LPU’s efforts to close out the score came short as the Lady Blazers claimed the first set, 25–19.
Benilde maintained their momentum in the second set as Gamit, Nolasco, and Jade Gentapa poured attacks and took the early lead, 8-4. Season 98’s Best Opposite Spiker Gayle Pascual made her presence felt in the latter half of the set, scoring five points and an ace which helped close out the second set, 25-11.
The Lady Blazers dominated early in the third set after a 3-0 run heading to the first technical timeout, 8-5. With a five-point deficit, Jaja Tulang, Joan Doguna, and Johna Dolorito led the Lady Pirates' offense which led to a 15-15 tie. Pascual steered Benilde out of the deadlock while Mondoñedo provided a comfortable cushion at 20-17. Gentapa and Nolasco added some finishing touches and led Benilde to their back-to-back titles, 25-20.
Season 98 Second Best Outside Spiker Jade Gentapa finished with 13 points and was hailed the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) while Gayle Pascual topped the Lady Blazers’ scoring with 15 points. Head Coach Jerry Yee was again named Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Blazers to another championship.
Yee admitted that Season 98 was “much harder” than Season 97. In January 2023, team captain and Season 97 MVP Mycah Go suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) right before Season 98 started.
“Ilan ‘yung five-setters natin, we had to make adjustments with players, playing style. But of course, masaya in the end nakuha namin,” the head tactician shared.
The Lady Blazers made history as they claimed their back-to-back titles in Season 97 and 98 with an undefeated record of 29-0 since Season 95.