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Lady Cards overpower Lady Altas in a five-set match, 3-2

Article by: Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin and Alyanna Ysabelle A. Faustino
Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

Keeping their winning streak alive in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 97 Women’s Volleyball Tournament elimination round, the Mapúa Lady Cardinals outlasted the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (UPHSD) Lady Altas in a five-set thriller, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 15-12, clinching their third consecutive victory, last June 24, at the Paco Arena.

Struggling with their reception and limiting errors, the Lady Cards went off with a slow start, trailing behind their opponents in the first set. Rattling the Lady Altas’ momentum, Lady Cards’ Middle Blocker Princess Jolina Babiera began scoring with a power tip coming off high. As the red and gold squad fought to keep themselves within striking distance, they traded points with the Lady Altas towards the last stretch of the set. However, holes in their defense and crucial service errors proved to be too much, costing the Lady Cardinals the first set, 20-25.

With the lead changing back and forth throughout the first half of the second set, the Lady Cards kept toe-to-toe with the Lady Altas. Establishing a consistent and steady force, Middle Blocker Alyanna Nicole Ong racked up points, allowing the home team a four-point lead, 19-15. Determined to break away from deadlocks, the Intramuros-based squad worked on their receives and rallied as they survive the opponents’ late set run. Open Spiker Therese Manalo’s crosscourt kill put the Lady Cards on the board, winning the second set, 25-22.

In the third set, both teams displayed a similar tempo to the second set with barely any point margin in between them. Despite the Lady Atlas’ attempts to pull away, Ong’s powerful attacks and Team Captain Jonina Fernandez’s steady receptions allowed the Lady Cardinals to respond with a 5-1 counter run to restore a tight distance between the two teams. A back-row hit from Fernandez secured the third set for the Mapúa volleyers, giving them a two-point advantage, 25-23.

Getting off to a rocky start in the fourth set, the Lady Cards struggled to put their attacks across the court. Fernandez attempted to restart their rally by declining the opponents’ quest for a smooth run with a quick ambush which Lady Altas Razel Aldea failed to anticipate. Eager to catch up, Ong pierced the ball to the other side of the court, delivering a quick spike. Despite their attempts, the team only yielded 13 points, resulting in their second five-set match of the season.

With a make-or-break fifth set, Babiera reset the team’s composure with a kill block against the Lady Altas. The Intramuros-based volleyers continued their renewed force with a four-point advantage but momentarily faltered after the opponents levelled the playing field. The red and gold jerseys then slammed the door shut for the Lady Altas, pulling out all the stops to overtake them and dominate the zone, 15-12.

While Mapúa Lady Cardinals Head Coach Clarence Esteban deemed it a bad day for them, he still believed in the team’s capabilities which eventually paid off in the deciding set. ”Pinipilit ko lang sila i-motivate na ituloy lang nila kung ano yung dapat na gawin nila,” he said.

After securing three wins in a row, the Lady Cards pulled off a 3-1 win-loss stint, while the Lady Altas dropped down to a 2-2 record.

Three-time Best Player of the Game Rookie Ong paced the team after tallying 21 points with 13 spikes and eight blocks. Fernandez earned 12 points and Opposite Spiker Carla Gaudan chipped in seven points to drive the team to victory.

As for the Lady Altas, Mary Rhose Dapol led the charge with 13 points while Hannah Suico and Razel Aldea contributed 12 points each.

The Lady Cardinals will strive to bring down the top seed De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers, tomorrow, June 28, 12:00 PM, in the same arena. The game will still air on GTV, with live streaming on the social media platforms of NCAA Philippines and GMA Sports PH.

The Scores:
MU – Ong 21, Fernandez 12, Gaudan 7, Batac 6, Babiera 5, Manalo 5, Gojol 1, Espiritu 0, Ortega (L), Sy (L), Bolandrina 0, Vergino 0, Cruz 0, Dalida 0
UPHSD – Dapol 13, Aldea 12, Suico 12, Gaviola 10, Padua 7, Scott 7, Ocado 5, Lim (L) 0, Arcellana 0, Bedana 0, Salimbacod 0, Reyes (L) 0, Reyes 0, Santiago 0

Set Scores: 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 15-12
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