The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Lady Blazers escaped a five-setter match, 3-2, against the Mapua University (MU) Lady Cardinals, while the Benilde Blazers could not hold off for a back-to-back win after losing to the Mapua Cardinals, 0-3, on March 7, at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
The Lady Blazers were the first to grace the court against the Mapua Lady Cardinals. Coach Jerry Yee’s first stringers were immediately felt in the first set as Cloanne Mondoñedo’s successful sets would lead to perfect attacks for spikers Jade Gentapa, Gayle Pascual, and Mich Gamit. However, multiple errors halted the momentum of the Lady Blazers, resulting in a close first set. Gentapa and Pascual led the squad with a combined 12 successful attacks in the first set. Middle blocker Zamantha Nolasco triggered the set point for the Lady Blazers and finished the set with a quick attack, 25-22.
The second set was dominated by the Lady Blazers as they managed to control the set early, while errors hindered the Lady Cardinals. The second stringers filled the second set as Camill Avila marked up the stat sheets with consecutive quick attacks. Mondoñedo executed her attacks in the second set, scoring with successful fake sets. The ladies in white and green showed their blocking prowess in the set as Nolasco and Avila hovered the blocking spots, giving the Lady Cardinals a hard time finding an attack advantage. Second-string setter, Chenae Basarte, managed to set up Avila to a clean quick attack that gave the Lady Blazers their second set win, 25-16.
The third set gave a blow to the Lady Blazers as they struggled on the receiving end. Mapua’s Roxie Dela Cruz led the Lady Cardinals to a 4-0 start, slowing down Benilde early in the third set. The rookies, Wielyn Estoque and Jessa Dorog handled the load in the third set. But the Lady Cardinals were too much for the Lady Blazers as the duo of Dela Cruz and Nicole Ong gave quick points for the Lady Cardinals. Gentapa and Corrine Apostol gave Benilde hope for a sweep as they tried a comeback win, but Mapua’s Dela Cruz dominated and finished the set, 24-26.
The Lady Blazers still couldn’t find their groove in the fourth set as they are off to a salty set opener. An unfettered Pascual suddenly broke the scoring drought for the Benilde squad, but her efforts were not enough as Mapua triggered the first technical timeout. Pascual continued to lead, with the help of Gentapa and Mondoñedo, but the Lady Cardinals got the momentum as they would continue to dominate through the whole set. The Lady Blazers lost the fourth set through Mapua's successful block touch challenge, 22-25.
The fifth set started off for the Lady Blazers as the Lady Cardinals got the early lead. Gentapa reclaimed the lead with consecutive attacks to tie the game at 10. Pascual suddenly ignited and pulled off consecutive attacks to maintain a lead. The Lady Blazers regained momentum and snatched the win, 15-13.
Pascual’s late efforts in the game made her the player of the game with 24 points, two blocks, and an ace.
The Benilde Blazers touched the court next against the Mapua Cardinals. Both parties showed inconsistencies, as errors filled up the court. The team’s twin towers, Georgie Gauani and James Laguit, combined for nine successful attacks to boost up the Benilde squad. But Mapua’s Barbie San Andres is too much for the Blazers as he led Mapua to a comfortable lead. The “mighty mouse” Leonard Jaboli made efforts to steal the win for the Blazers, but San Andres was already a statement for Mapua as he finished the set, 23-25, in favor of Mapua.
The second set started by the hot-handed Cardinals as they would lead early. Gauani and Jaboli continue to be fed by setter Cholo Fajardo to give a fight in the set. The Cardinals maintained a comfortable lead throughout the set and managed to dominate, 15-25.
Jaboli continued to stride for the Benilde Blazers in the third set, supported by the second stringers, Carlo Tero and Baron Gabuyan. Laguit reclaimed the lead for the Blazers with his signature quick attacks, and Gauani erupted to consecutive attacks late in the set. But the tough Cardinal, San Andres, was a heavy blow for the Benilde squad as he finished the final set, 21-25.
The Lady Blazers and Benilde Blazers will face off against the Colegio de San Juan De Letran (CSJL) Lady Knights and Knights on Friday, March 10, at the San Andres Sports Complex. Catch the Blazers’ games live through the NCAA Philippines social media pages.
Lady Blazers vs Lady Cardinals: 25-22, 25-16, 24-26, 22-25, 15-13
Blazers vs Cardinals: 23-25, 15-25, 21-25