Mapua coach Clarence Esteban wasted no time telling his Lady Cardinals why they were dragged into a marathon match by Lyceum in the V-League Collegiate Challenge at Paco Arena on Sunday.
“I reminded them of the system that I have been preaching and that is to strengthen our defense,” said Esteban in Filipino after he had a long talk with his Lady Cardinals in the dugout after a 23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 15-11 win carved out in well over two hours.
“What was evident in our assessment is our blocking, that is where we are weakest,” the Lady Cardinals’ coach said as both teams only had seven blocks combined.
Mapua bounced back from a straight-set shellacking from Far Eastern University, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15, on Wednesday while dealing the highly-touted Lady Pirates a second straight defeat. And Esteban is glad that they have broken into the win column.
The Lady Cardinals wasted several chances to end it in the fourth set and were dragged to a toe-to-toe battle in the decider.
Raisa Ricablanca led Mapua with 17 points as his strong attacking was on display all game. Roxie dela Cruz chipped in 15 points and Gwen Espiritu and Hannah de Guzman accounted for 12 each.
Esteban stressed that he will need to drill his crew more to improve their defense as they brace for tougher battles ahead, especially against UAAP teams like the Lady Tamaraws that handled them rather easily.
“We’re still in the process of perfecting our system, which we are fully using here,” he said. “That’s why sometimes my players are getting lost. But I told them that a win is a win.”
Mapua will battle it out with the University of the East Lady Warriors at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, while Lyceum will have a six-day break before facing the University of Perpetual Help on Sunday also at 12 p.m.
In men’s play, meanwhile, Ateneo bounced back from a first-set hiccup to score a 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College as the Blue Eagles won for the first time.
Jian Salarzon led the Blue Eagles with 18 points highlighted by four blocks and 3 aces, while Ken Batas and Amil Pacinio Jr. chipped in 13 points each as the Eagles dealt the Generals a second consecutive defeat.
The Blue Eagles gained momentum in the second set after the Generals clinched the first which, Ateneo coach Tim Sto. Tomas faulted on first-game jitters.
“They were still feeling each other out,” Sto. Tomas said. “But we’re thankful that happened because it was a wake-up call that they can’t just relax during the game.”
Far Eastern U also needed to go the distance before surviving La Salle, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25, 17-15, in the other men’s match. The Tams overcame huge deficits by turning to Dryx Saavedra, who anchored a closing 8-2 run that ended the two-hour, 24-minute match and improve to 1-1. INQ
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