MANILA - Defending champion Arellano University recovered from a slow start to outlast Jose Rizal University and punch their ticket to the Finals of the NCAA Season 97 women's volleyball tournament.
The Lady Chiefs, who ruled the Season 94 tournament in 2019, leaned on a balanced effort to claim a 19-25, 25-20, 27-25, 25-17 victory against the Lady Bombers on Sunday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
They arranged a best-of-three Finals series against the College of St. Benilde Lady Blazers, who gained an outright spot in the championship round after sweeping the eliminations.
St. Benilde's 9-0 run in the elimination round included a straight-sets victory against the Lady Chiefs.
Five players scored in double-digits for Arellano, led by Pauline de Guzman who came off the bench to finish with 19 points. Skipper Carla Donato added 13 points, including three of Arellano's 12 blocks in the match.
The Lady Chiefs had a 52-44 advantage in kills and a 12-10 advantage in blocks. Kristine Adante was credited with 30 excellent sets in the game.
The loss marked the end of the collegiate career of JRU captain Dolly Verzosa, who had 10 points as she was kept in check by the Arellano defense throughout the match. Sydney Niegos led the Lady Bombers with 15 points.
Game 1 of the finals is on July 20.