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Lady Cards outlast Lady Knights in five-set heart stopper, 3-2

Article by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo and Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin
Graphics by: Andreah Faye G. Lapinid
Photo by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

Recovering from their frustrating first loss, the Mapúa Lady Cardinals joined the winning column after evading the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Lady Knights' attacks in another five-setter, 25-19, 25-16, 14-25, 24-26, 16-14, to seal their first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 98 win, last February 24, at the San Andres Sports Complex.
Opposite Hitter Hannah De Guzman pushed to kickstart the home team’s momentum as she grabbed the first point of the game. Following two powerful charges from Outside Hitter Roxie Dela Cruz, the Lady Cards became ahead by two, 3-1. The game then went on to a tug-of-war as both Intramuros-based squads were eager to claim the upper hand. Breaking the 6-6 tie, the red and gold squad initiated the first challenge of the game as the recap showed that the Lady Knights committed a block touch violation. With a right-hand attack from leftie Opposite Hitter Gregchelle Grace Cabadin and an error from the Lady Knights, they began to pull away from their opponents, 18-16. Though the opposing side still attempted to catch up, the Lady Cards closed the first set with an ace from Dela Cruz, 25-19.

Starting with a 5-1 run in the second frame, the red and yellow jerseys balanced their offensive and defensive play to fend off their rivals. After a long rally before the end of the set, Outside Hitter Chenie Batac executed an attack to give them a nine-point lead, 19-10. Middle Blocker Babs Babiera then fired in a cross-court charge to maintain the advantage after the blue and white jerseys stepped in a point closer. After keeping the ball alive at the back row, Middle Blocker Alyanna Nicole Ong returned to end the second set with a successful block, 25-16. 

Only seconds into the third set, the Lady Knights already raised concerns regarding a net touch violation. While the Intramuros neighbors called the challenge, it went against their favor as the mistake was on their side. With a heated exchange occurring between the two squads, the MU succeeded in another challenge, as the opponents committed another block touch. However, despite leading in the first two sets, the Lady Cards struggled to maintain their tempo in the following frame. Though the Mapúa volleyers fought to hold onto their lead as Ong, Dela Cruz, and Batac took charge, they still scrambled to defend their court as the opponent team charged to steal the set, cutting their hopes to sweep the game, 14-25.

Fighting tooth and nail in the fourth set, the red and gold squad kept their composure to have a comfortable lead, but their efforts were blocked by the other Intramuros-based team. As the Intramuros players leveled the playing field with 18-18 apiece, the Lady Knights raised another challenge that proved to be unsuccessful after the replay showed that no block touch was executed by the red and yellow jerseys. Regardless of the momentum that the Lady Knights built up, duo Setter Trixie Mae Gojol and Dela Cruz denied them the set point to extend the set, 24-24. However, the opposing side found the weak sides of the home team’s defenses as CSJL’s Daisy Melendrez and Shereena Urmeneta targeted these zones to claim the frame and continue a crucial do-or-die game, 24-26.

With both teams keen on ending their game in favor, the push-and-pull gameplay continued in the deciding set. Though Lady Knight Urmeneta seized the first point of the set, Lady Cards’ Dela Cruz and Gojol answered with an attack and ace, respectively, to earn a short-lived advantage as these were followed by a service error, 2-2. With only one point behind, the Lady Cards encountered another challenge. Despite arguing that the ball of Mapúa went out of line, a closer look at the play proved that the ball went in, leading to another deadlock, 8-8. As the order of knights attempted to escape by capitalizing on the errors of the flock, 9-11, Lady Cards Head Coach Clarence “Aying” Esteban called for a timeout to cut the opponents’ surge of energy.

“…Kung ano maitutulong niyo dun sa loob, dapat yun ang gagawin natin ngayon. […] So kung ano yung macocontribute dun, walang iasa, ‘wag niyo na iasa. Kuha nang kuha ng bola tapos mag-isip kung ano ang gagawin,” he imparted to the players as the Lady Knights moved away by two points.

Motivated to catch up with the opponents, Dela Cruz added firepower to her team as she marked a game-high of 21 points to tie with CSJL, 11-11. With the Lady Knights embracing an early celebration to clinch their second win this season, Head Coach Esteban called for a challenge to look back on Opposite Hitter De Guzman’s attack. The challenge proved to be successful as the ball hit inside the opposing side’s court, which the other end did not receive, making it 14-14 apiece. Turning the tables, the Lady Cards capitalized on their opponents’ errors and outlasted Lady Knights, making sure that they ended their second five-set match this season with a cardiac finish, 16-14.

With another outstanding performance after their first game against the Lyceum of the Philippines University Lady Pirates, Super Rookie Roxie Dela Cruz was named the Best Player of the Game as she led the squad with 21 points on 19 attacks, one ace, and one block. Ong added 13 points for the team while Batac pitched in 11 points.

As for the Lady Knights, Julienne Castro led the way with 15 points, while her teammates Lea Rizel Tapang and Shereena Urmeneta contributed 14 points each.

Following the five-set showdown, the Lady Cards improved to a 1-1 win-loss tally with three points while the Lady Knights settled on a 1-1 record with four points.

After handing the first loss to their Intramuros neighbor, the Mapúa Lady Cardinals will strive to take down the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags tomorrow, February 26, at 2:00 PM, at the same venue. All games will be streamed live on the social media pages of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports. The Women’s Volleyball matches will also air on GTV.

The Scores:
MU – Dela Cruz 21, Ong 13, Batac 11, De Guzman 10, Babiera 7, Gojol 4, Cabadin 3, Manalo 2, Sy (L) 0, Espiritu 0, Vergino 0, Macatangay 0, Dalida 0, Basas 0
CSJL – Castro 15, Urmeneta 14, Tapang 14, Isar 9, Ledesma 7, Melendres 4, Estreller 3, Cunada 2, Musngi 2, Nitura 0, Dela Cruz 0, Santos 0, Relucio 0, Silva 0
Set Scores: 25-19, 25-16, 14-25, 24-26, 16-14

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