By MIGS FLORES
The Arellano University Lady Chiefs had enough heart break for NCAA Season 92. They lost their opening day match against the San Sebastian Lady Stags in dramatic fashion then, after rattling off 10 straight wins, their head coach Obet Javier lost his wife to cancer.
It was all but fitting that the Lady Chiefs be redeemed on the day of hearts.
The Lady Chiefs could no longer be denied, clinching the Season 92 Women’s Volleyball title on Valentines Day, dominating the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags one last time, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 25-16 at the historic PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Lady Chiefs had lorded it over the Lady Stags to start the Finals, taking the first two games in dramatic fashion. The penultimate game of the series, however, was a master class on teamwork and all-around volleyball.
The Lady Chiefs opened the match by going on a 9-2 run to take the first set from the Lady Stags. Arellano then came back from 20-24 deficit in the second frame to nearly force a deuce, but San Sebastian’s Grethcel Soltones managed to pick off the final point. Battling their own errors, the Lady Chiefs managed to outwork their foes in the last two points to come within a set of the title.
The fourth set became a proper coronation for the Lady Chiefs. They built a commanding 16-10 lead and stifled the Lady Stags’ ace Grethcel Soltones with two blocks to claim the title.
Coming into the series behind a thrice-to-win disadvantage, Javier could not be more elated with how his wards took the match.
“Napakalaki sa amin ito kasi yung mga bata, pinaghirapan talaga namin ang taon na ito. Noong first round, natalo kami sa Baste kaya nag-set kami ng goal na hindi na dapat mangyari ito. Nangyari naman,” Javier said.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa players ko kasi kahit sa ganoong bagay, dinamayan nila ako.”
Graduating team captain Rialen Sante marveled at how her squad came together to take the title.
“Masasabi ko po talaga na team talaga kami. Nagsama-sama kami at pinakita namin lahat ng pinaghirapan namin buong taon. Masaya ako kasi hindi namin hinayaan ang isa’t isa. We did it for each everyone of us,” Sante said.
Sante along with Finals MVP Jovielyn Prado and Andrea Marzan each had 14 points while middle hitter Mary Anne Esguerra added 12.
Three-time NCAA MVP Soltones had 25 points in her final collegiate match, finishing her career without a title and four bridesmaid finishes.
AU (3) – Marzan 14, Prado 14, Sante 14, Esguerra 12, Arocha 7, Ramirez 6, Flores 0, Sanchez 0, Galang (L), Ibisa (L)
SSC-R (1) – Soltones 25, Villegas 10, Encarnacion 9, Dalisay 7, Sta. Rita 5, Guillema 1, Oliveros 1, Lim 0, Santos 0, Eroa (L)