The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Lady Blazers ignited a dominant run after defeating the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Lady Pirates in game one of the NCAA Season 98 Women’s Volleyball Finals, 3-0, on April 11, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
The Benilde Lady Blazers began their finals stint fiercely as Mitch Gamit initiated a 4-2 run for the team. Staple starter Jade Gentapa and middle blocker Zamantha Nolasco both contributed to the early scoring spree, with credit to the successful setups of team captain Cloanne Mondoñedo. Coach Jerry Yee's starting six quickly made strong contributions as Gayle Pascual and Corrine Apostol marked the stat sheets immediately, while libero Fiona Getigan defended the floor. However, the Lady Blazers' early momentum was quickly tamed after the first technical timeout, as LPU's Joan Doguna triggered to cut the lead to a single point, 8-7. Gentapa rushed to halt the scoring drought after making her own 3-0 run, followed by a quick attack by Nolasco to mark the second technical timeout, 16-10. The Lady Blazers would continue to dominate after the break with Jessa Dorog quickly tallying some points. Meanwhile, Pascual boasted her defensive prowess to force errors in the opposing side, despite the lack of her offensive load, 20-12. A successful set by the second-string setter, Chenae Basarte, led Gentapa to a set-finisher attack to end the opening set, 25-17.
The ladies in green and white started the game with a slow start in the second set after being down, 0-2. Yet, Gentapa immediately cut their nearly decreasing momentum with a powerful spike. An ace by Mondoñedo tied the game, 4-4, but it was not enough as the Lady Pirates triggered the first technical timeout, 4-8. Second stringers, Cristy Ondangan and Dorog led the comeback rally until Gentapa managed to make a statement attack to reclaim the lead, 10-9. Pascual ignited to extend the gap, making consecutive attacks, forcing the Lady Pirates to commit several attack errors. Eventually, the Lady Blazers managed to initiate the second technical timeout, 16-11. Nearing the end of the second set, Pascual continued to dominate the stats sheet, but Lady Pirate Johna Dolorito would not let the Blazers finish the set easily as she snatched the momentum of the game. Dorog suddenly triggered the finishing rally for the Lady Blazers, with Mondoñedo finishing the set with a spike, 25-19.
By the third set, the Lady Blazers started firmly as they quickly managed to make a 4-0 run led by Pascual and Nolasco. The Taft squad also managed to execute an outstanding defensive effort with Mondoñedo and Nolasco blocking to quickly trigger the first technical timeout, 8-2. Mondoñedo continued to execute her setting excellence, setting up Pascual, Gentapa, and Gamit to maintain the lead. The Lady Blazers proceeded to hover on the top of the net as the defensive maneuvering of Pascual and Nolasco forced the Lady Pirates to commit errors, initiating the second technical timeout, 16-9. Second stringer, Camill Avila, tallied key attacks for the Blazers to get a dominant lead, 19-9. Despite being sidelined in the first two sets, Wielyn Estoque did not fail to make her presence felt after executing successful attacks, credit to the strong sets of Basarte. Estoque concluded the game with an open attack, claiming the opening game of the series, 25-19.
Pascual was hailed as the player of the game after tallying 15 points with 12 attacks and 3 blocks, followed by Gentapa with 9 points in 8 attacks.
DLS-CSB vs LPU: 25-17, 25-19, 25-19