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Lady Cards continue five-setter streak against Lady Generals, 3-2

Article by: Robert Kobe T. Garcia ang Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista
Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

In standard nail-biting fashion, the Lady Cards conquered the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Lady Generals, 17-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-8, in their last match in the elimination round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 97 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, last July 9, at the Paco Arena.

The Lady Cards unfolded the first set with a point after a net touch error from the Lady Generals but later struggled to gain control as their opponents struck through their defenses. Amidst a slow start, Middle Blocker Princess Babiera launched a successful spike that pushed her team for a series of attacks. However, the red and gold volleyballers could not hold on to the lead as the white jerseys' defensive and offensive play toppled them, resulting in numerous errors on their side, costing them the first set, 17-25.

Unable to shake off the last set, the Intramuros-based squad could not keep up with their errors, allowing the Paco-based team to secure a lead. In an attempt to break off their dry spell, Middle Blocker Alyanna Nicole Ong boarded two straight points while Opposite Spiker Carla Jean Gaudan brought in back-to-back aces. Open Spiker Chenie Batac supplied the Lady Cards with the needed resurgence for a 6-0 run. Despite this, the opponents took the set as the Lady Cards fell short in the last few points, 22-25.

At the brink of a potential loss, the red and gold squad sought to overturn the game as they went for a silent charge, matching up with the opponents up until the nine-point mark. After two consecutive attack errors from EAC’s Almazan, the Lady Cards saw this as an opportunity to knab the lead with Setter Trixie Gojol earning a service ace. This prompted a 15-4 run that ended with a piercing strike from Ong at set point, 25-13.

Maintaining their newfound momentum, the Lady Cards sought to extend the game to a five-setter as their offenses broke the Lady Generals’ ironclad wall. Still suffering from their errors, the red and gold squad rallied their way in solid offensive tactics – from Gaudan’s crosscourt shot to Team Captain Jonina Fernandez’s off-the-block hit. As the opponents began to close in, Batac broke their momentum with an unexpected save, eventually leading to a much-needed fifth set, 25-18.

A neck-and-neck battle commenced in the final set as both teams refused to yield to the other. Yet, the Lady Cards took control of the set as they contained the Lady Generals who struggled to get a clear shot in the latter part of the set. After playing strong spikes, Babiera finished off the game with a drop ball. The red and gold clinched their fifth win and remained unbeaten in five-set matches, 15-8.

Rookie Ong took Best Player of the Game for the fourth time in the season as she delivered 16 points in the match. Gaudan chipped in 15 points while Fernandez and Batac pitched in 11 points each.

Lady General Catherine Almazan contributed 19 points for her team while Krizzia Reyes and Jamaica Villena earned 17 and 7 points respectively.

In a post-game interview, Ong shared her thoughts about their will to win the game. “Pumasok kami dito sa arena, na gusto namin manalo, na lalabas kami na no regrets na masaya kami dito. So parang may nag ignite lang talaga sa isip at puso namin kaya nabuhay din po kami,” the Best Player of the Game stated.

The Lady Cardinals ended their season with a 5-4 win-loss record while the Lady Generals settled with a 2-7 win-loss stint.

The Lady Cardinals placed fourth in the team rankings after the said match. However, the Intramuros-based team fell to fifth place as the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Lady Bombers outlasted the Lyceum of the Philippines University Lady Pirates and completed the Final Four.  

The four teams that will proceed to the stepladder-semis format are the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers, Arellano University Lady Chiefs, San Sebastian College – Recoletos Lady Stags, and JRU Lady Bombers.

As the Lady Blazers swept the elimination round of the NCAA Season 97 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, the stepladder-semis format was implemented with the Taft-based team advancing to the Finals. The winner between the teams that ranked third and fourth, Lady Stags and Lady Bombers, will face the Lady Chiefs. The remaining team will head to the finals and battle with the Lady Blazers.

The remaining games of the other teams for this season will be aired on GTV and streamed live on the social media pages of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH. The league has yet to release the complete schedule of the upcoming matches but will take place at the Filoil Flying V Centre starting July 15, Friday.

The Scores:
MU – Ong 16, Gaudan 15, Fernandez 11, Batac 11, Babiera 7, Manalo 6, Gojol 3, Ortega (L) 0, Sy (L) 0, Vergino 0, Cruz 0, Dalida 0, Bolandrina 0
EAC – Almazan 19, Reyes 17, Villena 7, Magalona 6, Formento 6, Porto 4, Omapas 0, Perez 0, Lut 0, Banares (L) 0
Set Scores: 17-25, 22-25, 25-13, 25-18, 15-8
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