The Benilde Blazers and Lady Blazers trampled the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates and Lady Pirates after a 3-0 and 3-2 victory on March 4 at the San Andres Sports Complex.
Coming from three straight losses, the Benilde Blazers started their Saturday morning with a clean sweep victory against the LPU Pirates. Both teams began the game on both ends of the court as violations and errors racked up points. After an unsuccessful challenge from the opponent’s side, the Blazers found their rhythm and staged an eight-to-nothing run that ushered them to close the set with a six-point margin, 25-19.
Stronger and deadlier attacks from both sides brought both teams to a back-and-forth affair early into the second set. Despite better defensive plays from the Pirates, the men in green and white managed to sustain a mid-game dominance through the help of LPU’s uncontrolled errors and Leonard Jaboli’s front and back row attacks, pushing Benilde to a 25-22 win.
The Pirates’ early advantage in the third set hardly affected the Blazers, who dropped surprise attacks and tighter floor defense to disable the opponent from pulling away. With Georgie Gauani taking charge of the playmaking in the last frame, the green side sparked a 7-0 run to wrap up the game at 25-21.
Setter Cholo Fajardo, who orchestrated the brilliant plays of the Blazers, was hailed as the game player with 13 excellent sets, while Gauani top-scored with 11 points and Jaboli with 10.
Meanwhile, the Lady Blazers struggled to find rhythm in the first set as hitters Janeth Tulang and Joan Doguna led the Lady Pirates’ offensive tirades. With the score at 20-21, Jade Gentapa and Gayle Pascual tried to keep Benilde afloat, but the Lady Pirates continued their aggressive attacks to close out the first set, 22-25.
Benilde bounced back in the second set, leading the scoreboard in the first and second technical timeouts. Top hitters Gentapa and Pascual took the lead for the Blazers. Meanwhile, Mich Gamit and Cloanne Mondoñedo provided defensive help and prevented the Lady Pirates from lowering the deficit, 25-16.
Despite the strong finish in the second set, the Lady Blazers were in disarray as the Lady Pirates managed to force errors from Benilde and led by as much as eight points. Zamantha Nolasco and Gentapa provided help for the Blazers, but Tulang and Doguna’s attacks overwhelmed the defending champions, claiming the set, 16-25.
Determined to remain undefeated despite being down by one set, the Lady Blazers, led by Pascual and Mondoñedo, improved both their offensive and defensive ends with 12 attacks and forced 11 errors which prevented the Lady Pirates from closing out the game, 25-13.
In the decider set, the Lady Blazers played aggressively on both ends with back-to-back kill blocks, which gave them the 5-1 lead. The Lady Pirates tried to stay afloat as Johna Dolorito and Tulang provided attacks that lowered the deficit to four. Rookie Jessa Dorog and Pascual placed the final nail in the coffin, preventing LPU from blemishing their record, 15-9.
Team captain Cloanne Mondoñedo was hailed player of the game with 10 points and 25 excellent sets, while Gentapa led the scoring of 22 points 14 excellent digs and one ace.
The Blazers and Lady Blazers will face the Mapúa University Cardinals and Lady Cardinals on March 7 at the same venue. The games will be aired live on the NCAA Philippines social media pages.
Blazers vs Pirates: 25-19, 25-22, 25-23.
Lady Blazers vs Lady Pirates: 22-25, 25-16, 16-25, 25-13, 15-9.