Arellano University (AU) turned back Jose Rizal, 25-13, 25-20, 25-17, and San Beda downed Perpetual Help, 25-21, 25-15, 25-23, on Friday to forge a title showdown in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
The Lady Chiefs found an unlikely hero in Sarah Verutiao, who was filling on for the injured reigning league best setter Rhea Ramirez, as they spoiled the Lady Bombers’ first Final Four stint in a long time as she dished out career-best 39 excellent sets in securing a return trip to the finals.
The Lady Red Spikers, for their part, drew strength from twins Maria Nieza and Maria Jiezela Viray, who fired 16 and eight points, respectively, while combining for 22 digs, in booking a historic first finals appearance.
There, AU will shoot for its second straight title and third overall while San Beda guns for its first championship in a best-of-three title showdown unfolding next week.
The Viray’s heroics came at a time when Cesca Racraquin, the team’s unquestioned leader, struggled with nine hits.
“This is the product of the team’s hard work. This team endured a lot of things,” said San Beda coach Messio Gavino in Filipino.
Earlier, College of St. Benilde kept its title-retention bid going as it trounced a pesky San Beda, 25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 20-18, in the first stepladder semis game of the men’s section.
Captain Isaah Oneal Arda fired a match-best 23 points including 22 off attacks as the Blazers moved ahead and will play the second-seeded Chiefs in Tuesday’s final semis game.
The winner of that showdown will secure the last slot in the best-of-three finale against Perpetual Help, which clinched the first berth with an impressive nine-game elimination round sweep.
In junior’s action, Letran edged CSB-La Salle Greenhills, 13-25, 25-23, 25-23, 20-25, 15-12, to ensure itself of a Final Four spot.