REGINE Arocha shone as Arellano University overcame a tough first set to beat Lyceum of the Philippines University, 27-25, 25-20, 25-20, and open its four-peat bid on a high note in the NCAA women's volleyball tournament yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Motivated as ever, Arocha displayed maturity and leadership, especially in the opening frame where the Lady Chiefs found the Lady Pirates tough nut to crack before taking the upperhand.
Not only that, Arocha was efficient in her attacks, drilling in 18-of-36 kills to lead Arellano. The graduating open spiker also had nine receptions and eight digs.
Later, College of Saint Benilde, one of pre-season favorites, topped last year's runner-up University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 25-17, 14-25, 25-17, 25-20 to also set in motion its campaign on a winning note.
As the Lady Chiefs seek to cement their dynastic rule, coach Obet Javier knows that his troops need to elevate their game further in this compressed season.
"Kami naman, pinipilit naman yung dapat for the school. Sa ngayon, kung ie-evaluate ko yung performance ng team, malayo pa. Hindi pa yung puwedeng pang-four-peat," said Javier.
Two-time Finals MVP Arocha has mixed emotions on her final season, hoping to bring Arellano on top for the fourth straight year.
"Nakaka-excite pero nakakalungkot din," said Arocha.
Carla Donato was solid in the middle with seven blocks to become the Lady Chiefs' other player in twin digits with 12 points, while Alyana San Gregorio and Mikaela Juanich each scored six markers.
Veteran playmaker Sarah Verutiao tossed in 14 excellent sets libero Faye Flores collected 21 digs.
Alexandra Rafael led LPU with 12 points, rookie transferee Joy Onofre had three blocks to finish with nine markers while Joan Doguna also had nine points to go with 10 digs.
The Lady Pirates had a 23-22 lead late in the first set, but could not get the job done with their errors, and Arocha producing timely hits.
In the men's division, Jesrael Liberato had three blocks and two service aces to finish with 15 points while Christian Segovia and Jethro Cabillan each had 10 hits as Arellano also had a winning start with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-22 victory over LPU.
Angelo Lagando came through with 23 points and 11 digs to power Arellano's juniors team to a narrow 25-19, 23-25, 26-24, 20-25, 15-12 win over LPU.