GRETCHEL Soltones rediscovered her old, fine form as San Sebastian College secured the first Final Four berth with a 25-22, 25-13, 25-13 victory over University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Soltones, the two-time MVP who is supposed to be dominant this season, came through with 19 points and six digs as the Lady Stags improved to 7-0 that kept them on track for an outright championship berth.
“Natatakot nga ako dahil wala kaming ensayo noong Christmas. Talagang naghintay kami ng January bago mag-practice ulit,” said San Sebastian coach Roger Gorayeb. “Napabor lang siguro dahil sa Jan. 11 ang game, may time pa kami na mag-practice.”
The Lady Stags looked solid as Soltones drew a combined 14 points from Joyce Sta. Rita and Katherine Villegas.
Earlier, Arellano University surprisingly swept College of Saint Benilde, 25-21, 25-21, 25-21, in a duel of the past two league champions to move on the cusp of clinching a Final Four berth.
The Lady Chiefs notched their sixth consecutive win after a season-opening loss aside from getting some sort of revenge from last season’s stepladder semis loss to the Lady Blazers who dethroned them from the throne.
“One year namin talagang dinamdam at pinaghandaan ito. Kaya sinabi ko sa mga bata na siguraduhin natin na pagdating ng paghaharap ulit natin sa kanila, yung maganda ang magiging resulta natin. Siguro, naging motivation namin ito, naging aral sa amin ito,” said Arellano coach Obet Javier.
The Lady Stags were doing fine in everything except in setting, which is Gorayeb’s main concern at the moment.
“Basically yung game okay lang, yung execution lang ni Vira (Guillema). Yung play niya napakabagal at yung decision making niya. Minsan, wala sa ayos,” said Gorayeb.
Ria Sante scored all one of her 15 points from spikes while Jovie Prado scattered 13 points, all from attacks, for the Lady Chiefs.
For Javier, there’s no room for Arellano to falter in the last two games, all against Final Four contending teams, as a loss will simply alter everything.
“Hindi ka na puwedeng magkamali ngayon kasi dikit-dikit ang standings. ’Yung ang sinasabi ko sa kanila ang kahalagahan ng every game na manalo,” said Javier.
In the men’s division, John Vic de Guzman fired 25 points as St. Benilde clinched the first Final Four berth with a 23-25, 25-16, 29-27, 25-20 tripping of Arellano.