San Sebastian overcame a tough first set challenge then settled down in the next two to dispose of Letran, 26-24, 25-12, 25-18, and set in motion its title campaign in the Shakey’s V-League ninth season at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Four-time MVP Jang Baulee fired away 24 hits as she almost single-handedly carried the Lady Stags past a stubborn Letran side in a Group B match while priming herself up for a big game against the Adamson Lady Falcons tomorrow.
Letran fell into a maze of errors and blew a 24-20 lead in the first set, enabling the Lady Stags to fight back and gain the momentum.
Analyn Joy Benito scored eight points, Dafna Robinos had seven hits while Rubie de Leon also had seven markers while providing 25 running sets for the Recoletos-based squad, out to end a long title drought in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
Karen Berbano and Ara Mallare also combined for seven points for SSC, which last won in the second conference of the 2008 season.
“I thought we’d lose the first set but I told them to fight back and they never gave up,” said SSC coach Clint Malazo in Filipino.
Letran, coming off a runner-up finish in the NCAA, dragged San Sebastian into a see-saw game in the early going but failed to hang on after an extended first-set duel.
The Lady Knights, however, struggled in the second set, enabling the Lady Stags to cruise before the latter, with the momentum and the confidence going for them, re-asserted their mastery over the former to complete the one-hour, 15-minute victory in the event organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Patcharee Sangmuang, a former team captain of the Thai national team, ended up with 11 hits while trying to complement with the Lady Knights’ game. Joy Cases, the other guest player, added eight kills and finished with nine points.
“Letran was actually coming off a championship game in the NCAA that’s why they played solid in the early going. But we were able to gain the momentum and kept the pace till the end,” said Malazo.
Mei Cu and Sarah Jane Espelita chipped in five points apiece for Letran, which needs to bounce back to stay in the hunt for a quarterfinal berth in the short round robin elims among 10 teams divided into two groups.
Ateneo joined San Sebastian in the early lead with a 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 25-15 victory over Far Eastern U later in the day.
The power-hitting local crew of Fille Cainglet, Alyssa Valdez and Dzi Gervacio delivered for the Lady Eagles, combining for 45 hits while Thai import Lithawat Kesinee added 13 points, including three blocks while providing the leadership for the defending champions.
Cainglet finished with 18 points, Valdez had 14 hits while Gervacio dished out a superb all around game with 13 points, highlighted by four blocks and three service aces.
Rosemarie Vargas uncorked 18 points, including two service aces, while Wenneth Eulalio added 11 hits for the Lady Tamaraws.