Grethcel Soltones proved to be the difference as Bali Pure clawed back from one set down to beat NU in a 5-set 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference thriller Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Returning from a trip to Europe, the back-to-back NCAA MVP scattered 23 points as the Purest Water Defenders edged the Lady Bulldogs, 18-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13, for their first tournament win.
Playing coach Charo Soriano, who played just in the third set, lauded Soltones for coming in prepared.
“Grethcel Soltones’s presence today is very emphatic. She really manifested a very veteran play,” she said of her prized ward, who also had 13 digs.
“She didn’t seem like she was a rookie. She played her heart out,” Soriano added. “She is our co-captain and Alyssa Valdez is our captain. We wanted to give her that slot so she can grow more as a player. She really did good today and proved herself.”
Boasting of some of the most notable names from the Ateneo program, Bali Pure was slightly favored over NU, a college team that pushed powerhouse Pocari Sweat to the limit last week.
But the ladies off Sampaloc refused to roll over and die, even sending the Purest Water Defenders on the verge of defeat with an inspired performance in the third set.
The Lady Bulldogs, however, could not maintain a fifth-set lead as they dropped to their second loss in 3 outings.
Nonetheless, Soriano offered praise for the players of her former mentor, coach Roger Gorayeb.
“The Lady Bulldogs really have a good heart. They have a tough-serving team and of course their blocking is very imminent in the game. Having Jaja Santiago there, having Risa Sato there, is really something that we had to prepare for,” she said.
“We really focused on activating our middles so that our middles can actually get blocks. Get Jaja to block, get Risa to block so that our outside hitters can get some balls. In the fifth set also there were times that they will block Kiwi (Ahomiro) or Mae (Tajima) and then Jem (Ferrer) would throw it to the outside.”
With Valdez arriving tomorrow from her trip, Soriano said that ‘most likely’ she will not be able to play on Wednesday to rest and avoid any injuries. — By Joyce Palad