MANILA, Philippines – University of Perpetual Help kept its season alive on Tuesday, after the Lady Altas hacked out an impressive four-set victory over top-seeded De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (CSB) in the Final 4 of the NCAA Season 94 women's volleyball tournament.
Veteran Cindy Imbo tallied a triple-double in the Lady Altas' 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23 victory, which allowed the fourth-seeded team to force a do-or-die game for the last spot in the NCAA finals.
Perpetual Help coach Macky Cariño admitted that his familiarity with CSB played a factor in the match, as he was able to prepare his own players for the Lady Blazers' tendencies in the game. Cariño had coached CSB until 2017, and steered the Lady Blazers to their maiden NCAA crown in 2015.
"'Yung majority doon sa kabila, majority doon ay akin pa, napag-iwanan ko pa," said Cariño, who resigned from CSB in 2017 to take over the head coaching post in Perpetual Help.
"Alam ko pa rin kung paano ko pinalakas ;yun. Advantage on our side because alam ko kung paano sila gumalaw," he explained. "Siyempre… alam ko kung paano din sila."
Knowing the CSB players as well as he does, Cariño formulated a game plan that pounced on their weaknesses. The Lady Altas followed their coach's instructions to the letter, particularly when it came to their service game.
Perpetual Help repeatedly targeted CSB's shakiest receivers, and wound up with 12 aces in the game.
"Ang naging key sa amin ngayon 'yung target talaga namin sa service. 'Yung attack namin parang secondary na lang, pero ang major talaga namin, sa service," said Cariño. "Yun ang key namin para manalo."
The coach now has one week to prepare the Lady Altas for the adjustments that will be made by CSB and its new head coach, Jerry Yee.
As early as now, however, Cariño is already looking forward to the possibility of making history for Perpetual Help, after having already done so with CSB.
"Masaya kasi dito naman ako nagsimula sa Perpetual. Parte ako noong gumawa ng history sa men's team, kay Coach Sammy (Acaylar). So ngayon happy ulit ako, magse-serve ako sa Perpetual, gagawa ako ng history sa babae naman," said Cariño, noting that it has been a while since the Lady Altas had played in the finals.
"Happy ako kasi malay mo, isang game na lang, abot kami ng finals. Pagdating ng finals, malay mo kami ang mag-champion, di ba? Walang imposible, basta gusto namin ang ginagawa namin," he said.
The do-or-die game between CSB and Perpetual Help is set for Tuesday, January 29, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
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