July 19, 2022

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Arellano faces a tough Benilde challenge in Finals

THIS year’s Season 97 NCAA volleyball MVP will not come from College of St. Benilde (CSB) nor will any of these Lady Blazers even land in the league’s top 10 scoring list.

Because the moment they entered the school gym in Taft Avenue for the team’s first day of training back in one quiet, lonely morning in April, these fantastic girls have decided to work as one collective unit with a sole, unflinching purpose of snaring the biggest award of all — the NCAA volley championship.

Equipped with this single-minded approach, CSB will have a chance to accomplish what it set out to do all along as it squares off with the biggest barrier to its dream crown in three-peat champion Arellano University (AU) today that would usher in their best-of-three title showdown at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.

“That’s our goal, to win the championship,” CSB coach Jerry Yee, who took a leave of absence at his Premier Volleyball League club Petro Gazz to focus on his college squad, yesterday told The STAR.

The Lady Blazers’ decision to forget about individual honors and just tuned in on that ultimate ambition to win it all and have a place in league history have bore fruit after they mightily swept the elimination round in nine games to seal the first ticket to the last dance.

It included a quick, merciless 25-15, 25-15, 25-14 decimation of a hapless AU side last July 9 that had a feeling of a memorial service at the Paco Arena.

The Lady Chiefs, the No. 2 seeds, survived stubborn Jose Rizal U’s upset try in a 19-25, 25-20, 27-25, 25-17 win of the final stepladder semis match Sunday to make it to the finals where they will have a shot at an amazing four-peat feat.

But when AU faces CSB in Game One at 2 p.m., it will be reminded of the stench and dreadful memory of that execution-style defeat it suffered at the hands of the latter in the elims.

AU coach Obet Javier knew how seemingly invincible CSB is and vowed to give a fiercer challenge.

“It will be like facing a wall, a tower,” said Mr. Javier. “But we will do our best to give them a worthy challenge.”

While he knew CSB will come in as a heavy favorite, Mr. Yee is wary of the potential rust from that long break — two weeks — they had.

“We’re anxious because of the long hiatus. We’re taking precautions though and try to avoid potential injuries and overtraining,” said Mr. Yee.

Thanks to CSB’s iron will though, nothing, not even that rust, could stop it from realizing its title aspiration. — Joey Villar