September 2, 2012—The University of Santo Tomas Lady Spikers continued their dominance in the sand court as they unravelled well-placed shots to outwit the National University Lady Bulldogs, 2-0 (21-13, 21-15) and clinched their sixth straight victory in the UAAP Season 75 women’s beach volleyball tournament held at the University of the East-Caloocan.
The Maruja Banaticla-Judy Caballejo tandem showed their clinical precision as early in the first set as both flaunted bullet-like service aces and deceitful drop shots that demolished the defense of NU’s Aleona Denise Santiago-Jen Reyes duo and had a six-point lead, 11-5.
The España-based pair never looked back as they carted away the first set with Caballejo’s barrage of attacks and Banaticla’s scintillating drop balls against NU’s tandem, 21-13.
The defending champion unleashed balance of offense and defense in the second frame to continue their performance highlighted by steadfast placing shots and fortified its six-game winning streak with an ace of Caballejo, 21-15.
Caballejo tallied 21 points, including 10 spikes and 6 aces, while Banaticla scored 13 markers, featured by 8 drop balls, to be an inch closer to their second consecutive finals appearance.
The black and gold players will face the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in their last game for elimination tomorrow. The win will give UST a sweep of the eliminations that will guarantee them an automatic finals berth with a thrice to beat advantage.
“Ihahanda natin yung dalawa in physical conditioning kasi yun yung pinaka importante sa beach volleyball. Then yung consistency sa attacks at pati na rin yung posisyon nung kalaban [ADMU],” Coach Emil Lontoc said.
Meanwhile, the UST men’s pair succumbed into a four-game losing skid as they bowed down to the ADMU duo in straight sets (21-23, 14-21) after the two failed to stop the offense of their opponent.
The John Depante-Mark Pangan tandem were overpowered by the Ysrael Marasigan-Ricci Gonzales pair in attacks and blocks aside from the 11 errors that they gave away to continue their losing streak in the league.
“Hindi dapat yan yung line-up kaso nagkaroon ng problema sa grades yung isa kong player na talagang nai-train ko kaya wala na kaming nagawa. Ang tanging magagawa ko na lang ay ang i-train ng todo yung dalawa,” Lontoc said.
By Karl Cedrick G. Basco
Photo taken by Hazel Manalansan