By Kristel Satumbaga
University of Perpetual Help coach Macky Cariño lauded his players’ mental toughness in ousting top seed College of St. Benilde for a finals berth in NCAA women’s volleyball on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Altas gallantly erased a 22-11 fourth set deficit to extend the match and eventually winning the game, 25-17, 27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 16-14, to set up a best-of-three title showdown with defending champion Arellano University starting Friday.
“That’s all we got left to stay in the game: mental toughness. I told my players the match is not yet over until it’s over,” said Cariño in Filipino.
“We never gave up. We kept our focus even if we were also trailing in the fifth set,” he added as the fourth-seeded Lady Altas needed to beat the Lady Blazers twice to move into the final round.
The win likewise proved that their 25-23, 25-21, 2-25, 25-23, win last week to St. Benilde was no fluke.
Cindy Imbo stepped up for Perpetual when needed most, erupting for 32 points including 29 kills. She also had 14 digs.
Cariño, however, their mission is not yet over, saying they still have one more battle to win.
“We still have to work harder. This is the most important part of the tournament,” said Cariño.
Perpetual aims to be the third team to sweep all divisions in the finals after its men’s and juniors squads earned outright championship berths.
The series opener is scheduled tomorrow with Game 2 slated on Feb. 8.
A deciding Game Three, if necessary, is slated on Feb. 12.
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