by Kristel Satumbaga
There was no “triple crown” but there was a three-peat as Arellano University overpowered University of Perpetual Help in four sets to keep its NCAA women’s volleyball crown for the third straight year.
Cheered on loudly by Arellano supporters, Necole Ebuen produced numbers befitting her MVP status to help power the Lady Chiefs to a 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 win over the Lady Altas in their rubber match yesterday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Arellano’s win not only cemented its reputation as one of the country’s premier volleyball schools but also denied Perpetual the silverware missing to complete a “triple crown”.
Perpetual earlier won the juniors and men’s volleyball titles – feats that perhaps added pressure for the misfiring Lady Altas.
Despite taking Game 2 of their best-of-three series, the Lady Chiefs started tentatively, giving the Lady Altas the early initiative.
But Ebuen stepped up and the rest followed suit as Arellano won the next three sets to keep its title.
Ebuen was unstoppable at the attack line, firing on all angles including in the pivotal third set where Perpetual rallied from a 20-8 deficit to threaten at 23-17.
But the Lady Chiefs displayed their championship experience this time, showing composure against a squad known for mounting huge comebacks as they controlled the tempo for most parts of the fourth frame despite the Lady Altas’ persistent attempts.
Arellano came through with a telling 5-0 run behind the explosive efforts of Ebuen and Regine Arocha to take the lead for good, 16-13.
Arocha’s gutsy plays earned her the Finals MVP award, highlighting her finals performance with 16 points including five service aces.
Princess Bello also shone for the Lady Chiefs by firing 11 of her 12 points on attacks, while Ebuen and Carla Donato chipped in 11 points each.
Rhea Ramirez made a fitting exit on her final playing year, finishing with 20 excellent sets for Arellano.
Cindy Imbo scored 12 points while Shyra Umandal and Jenny Gaviola posted 10 points each in a losing effort for Perpetual.
Tags: Arellano University, Carla Donato, Jenny Gaviola, Lady Altas, Lady Chiefs, NCAA, NCAA volleyball, NCAA women’s volleyball, Necole Ebuen, Perpetual Help, Shyra Umandal, University of Perpetual Help