Proving that it’s not about how you start, but how you finish, the Patriot volleybelles escape the National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats’ scare on crunch time in a straight but hard-earned 25-15, 25-23, and 27-25 win sets during the National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association (NCRUCLAA) held at Ugnayang La Salle, February 24.
Team captain and wing spiker Mara Galicia expressed that they prepared for their last eliminations game despite head coach Joven Racelis’ absence due to official business in Subic as a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association officials. She also shared that despite their preparations, they still encountered struggles along the sweep, “Pinaghandaan kasi namin ‘yong depensa namin [pero nawala] no’ng second set [kasi nagkaroon ng] miscommunication at saka nawala kami sa focus.”
Limiting their errors in the first frame, the Lady Patriots slowly but surely crawled back into the game after their 2-5 slow start to dominate the Wildcats during the entire set with their stable open and middle spikes, 25-15.
Showing the way for her teammates, Galicia set the motion on the second quadrant with a cross-court attack followed by a combination play in the middle to lead the charge, 13-9. After her quiet first set, Patriot Frances Dominique Bartolazo exhibited a placement shot and an ace to get the lead by as much as five, 15-10. Despite their consistent offense, the Lady Patriots were stunned by Wildcats’ Rona Mae Dionisio who led the 7-13 run for her team through her off-the-block spikes and aces before Patriot Basilyn Delfin’s open spike that trimmed the opponent’s lead by one, 22-23. Making her presence felt once again, Lady Patriot Galicia went from an off-speed shot followed by a through-the-block spike before Myka Tiangco’s lethal service ace that ended the opponent’s late scare, 25-23.
Leaving the opponent’s attacking department rattled, the green-and-white team immediately showcased consistency that allowed them to lead in double digits, 20-9. Keeping the opponent’s hopes alive, the Patriot volleybelles committed series of errors that boost the Wildcats’ morale to exhibit 3-14 run to locked the scores at 23-all.
Determined to end the third frame, Patriot Yasmine Shane Parohinog scored from a check ball before Galicia’s service error but Tiangco successfully tricked the opponent’s floor defense through her drop shot, 25-24. Taking another step backward, the Lady Patriots had a reception error, however, Wildcats’ Hazel Joy Bracamonte pulled a service error as Patriot Bartolazo delivered the good for the Animo squad with a placement shot, 27-25.
The National Capital Region Athletic Association champions Lady Patriots will have another opportunity on February 28 during the quarterfinals to step up for the throne after sweeping the eliminations round.