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Perpetual, St. Benilde shoot for finals berth

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by Kristel Satumbaga

Games Today (The Arena, San Juan City)
2 p.m. – CSB vs EAC (men’s semis)
4 p.m. – Perpetual vs CSB (women’s semis)

University of Perpetual Help hopes to ride on the momentum of last week’s win when it guns for a finals berth against College of St. Benilde today in NCAA women’s volleyball at The Arena in San Juan City.

The fourth-seeded Lady Altas lived for another day on Tuesday with a 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23 win over the top-ranked Lady Blazers to set up the 4 p.m. knockout duel for the remaining championship ticket.

The winner will face defending champion Arellano University in the best-of-three finals starting on Friday.

Perpetual Help coach Macky Cariño said his familiarity with some of St. Benilde’s players whom he used to coach was an advantage, but he gave credit to his stalwarts’ focus and determination to inch closer to their goal of ending a five-year title drought.

“I told them to focus. No cellphone, no social media, everything. We have nothing to do but train hard if we want to make it to the finals,” said Cariño in Filipino, who mentored St. Benilde’s 2015 squad that won a historic first championship.

While offense is crucial in the matchup, Cariño also hopes to further strengthen their serve after firing 12 aces the last time.

Cindy Imbo is set to lead the squad with reinforcements coming from Jenny Gaviola and Jhona Rosal.

St. Benilde, which entered the Final Four with a twice-to-beat incentive, aims to learn from past mistakes with Rachel Austero, Klarisa Abriam and Marites Pablo spearheading their assault.

Like Perpetual, Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) also aims to deliver the same energy that won them over Arellano when it faces St. Benilde in the men’s stepladder semis at 2 p.m.

The winner will clash with University of Perpetual Help in the best-of-three finals after the Altas propelled to the finals with a nine-game elimination sweep.

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