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Lady Cards hunt down first sweep victory against Lady Red Spikers, 3-0

Article and photo by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo
Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid

After a series of four-set and five-set matches since the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98, the Mapúa Lady Cardinals made it their mission to finish in three straight sets against the San Beda University Lady Red Spikers, 25-23, 25-19, 26-24, last March 15, at the San Andres Sports Complex.
Still finding their rhythm at the beginning of the first set, the Lady Cards eyed to catch up with the opponents’ lead with Middle Blocker Alyanna Nicole Ong launching a quick attack to mark their first point in the frame, 1-3. Middle Blocker Therese Angeli Manalo and Outside Hitter Roxie Dela Cruz then stepped in to fire an attack and back-to-back service aces, respectively, to take the lead, 4-3. Boosting its floor defenses and refusing to give in to the red and white jerseys, the home team fought to keep the ball alive and capitalized on the other squad’s errors. With Middle Blocker Babs Babiera’s service ace, the set ended in favor of the Lady Cards, 25-23.

Dela Cruz and Setter Trixie Mae Gojol opened the following frame with a strike and a service ace, 2-0. Despite the Lady Red Spikers attempting to steal the lead, the Lady Cards maintained their improved floor defense and heightened attacks to keep the opponents at bay as the foes fell under a dry spell, 20-15. Disregarding the opposite team’s run, Team Captain and Setter Gwen Espiritu finished off with a quick-witted attack, 25-19.

Though the Lady Cards maintained their composure in the third set, the Lady Red Spikers, led by Katleya Molina and Chynna Castillo, charged against the ladies from Intramuros to pull away by five points, 8-13. Regardless, as the opponents gave away points to the home team as well as combined efforts by Dela Cruz, Gojol, and Ong allowed them to catch up with only a point disadvantage, 14-15. Manalo then leveled the playing field with a powerful attack, 15-15. With both squads hungry for a win, they went on to fight tooth and nail. Lady Red Spiker Castillo’s attack error handed the match point to the home squad but was countered with a miscommunication among the Mapúa volleyers, 24-24. Opposite Hitter Hannah De Guzman broke into the Lady Red Spikers’ den and cut off their hopes to extend the play with back-to-back strikes, 26-24.

Best Player of the Game Manalo rose with 14 points from 14 powerful attacks. Super Rookie Dela Cruz, a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award, pitched in 15 points built on nine attacks and six service aces, while De Guzman added nine points.

Meanwhile, SBU’s Molina led her pack with 13 points, followed by Castillo with 10 points.

After securing its sixth win, the home team rose with a 6-2 win-loss card with 17 points on the fourth spot, while the San Beda University Lady Red Spikers succumbed to a 1-7 standing.

In a post-game interview with Head Coach Clarence “Aying” Esteban by GMA, he shared how he always challenges his players to secure a sweep victory as the team dealt with five five-setters and two four-setters this season. “Dapat hindi tayo bibirit nang basta-basta, ganun-ganun na lang,” the Head Coach stated as he mentioned how the squad needed to improve its consistency in its gameplay, which is among the factors of the extended matches.

Regardless, he commended his players who stepped up this game to steer the Lady Cards to their first sweep victory.

“Ang kapalaran namin ngayon dito sa Season 98 ay nasa kamay namin, kung pa’no namin lalaruin, kung pa’no namin ipapanalo iyong team. Para wala na kami masyadong iisipin is must-win kami nitong last game namin,” Coach Esteban stated as the Mapúa Lady Cardinals will attempt to take down the season’s current second-top seed, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas with a 6-2 record, tomorrow, March 19, at 12:00 PM, at the same venue.

After dominating the Arellano University Lady Chiefs earlier today, March 18, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Lady Knights pushed the NCAA Season 97 first runner-up out of the Final Four picture. The Intramuros neighbor handed the Lady Cards a chance to take home their first-ever championship title as the red and yellow jerseys head to the semis on March 26, Sunday, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

All games will be streamed live on the social media pages of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports and will also air on GTV.

The Scores:
MU – Dela Cruz 15, Manalo 14, De Guzman 9, Babiera 7, Ong 6, Gojol 2, Espiritu 1, Cabadin 0, Batac 0, Vergino 0, Macatangay 0, Dalida 0, Basbas (L), Sy (L)
SBU – Molina 13, Castillo 10, Abraham 8, Cenzon 4, Paras 4, Tayag, M.L. 4, Tayag, M.J., 1, Ani 0, Viray 0, Salangsang 0, Casugod 0, Binondo 0, Gregorio (L), Hadlocon (L)
Set Scores: 25-23, 25-19, 26-24

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