How the Thunderbolts shocked the Rhinos

You can’t ask for a better game. Both the Bacolod Tay Tung High School Thunderbolts and the Holy Rosary College Rhinos poured their hearts out in a scintillating bronze medal match.

Both BTT and HRC deserved to win the match and had a chance to do so by the fifth set. But in the end, the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 Western Visayas champions edged their Southern Luzon counterparts. Here’s how Tay Tung had their prayers answered against Holy Rosary.

First set – trial by error

The Thunderbolts did try a variation of attacks in the first set. However, most of them sailed wide. Add to that their service errors and you have a formula for disaster. Tay Tung actually led in attack points, 11-8, but their errors proved to be the determining factor about dropping the set. BTT committed 11 unforced errors in the first set alone while Holy Rosary only had six. Thus, the squad of coach Lerma Giron took the opening chapter, 25-19.

Second set – BTT served a beatdown

Both teams had six aces in the second set. However, Tay Tung did a better job fielding the first balls. They were able to pass decently to setters Katherine Shaine Cortez and Rhean Hebraica Almendralejo which in turn led to better attack opportunities especially for Shane Carmona and Alyssa Bertolano. That’s something that Holy Rosary was not able to do enough and their offense struggled as a result. Likewise, Tay Tung was able to reduce their errors to six while Holy Rosary committed nine. That allowed the Ian Macariola-coached team to even the match after the second set, 25-17.

Third set – Tay Tung gave HRC an early Christmas gift

Bacolod Tay Tung was dominating early in the set thanks to attacks from Erika Jin Deloria and Joan Marie Monares. But Holy Rosary mounted a comeback when they were facing a 17-13 deficit. BTT could have won the set if they merely traded points with the Southern Luzon champions. However, HRC’s service game clicked and Red Bascon delivered key points off quick attacks from the middle. End-set blunders cost Tay Tung heavily. Instead, Holy Rosary moved one set away to victory, 26-24.

Fourth set – HRC’s turn to be charitable

Holy Rosary committed 11 unforced errors, most of which from service errors and spikes not clearing the net. In contrast, Tay Tung only had six while their attack game clicked to win the fourth set, 25-17. Looking at the footage of this set, HRC’s backline played too far from the net defenders. That open spot in between the two lines is what the Thunderbolts repeatedly exploited with short serves and spikes that landed on that spot.

Fifth set – Game of nerves

While plays still matter in the fifth set, its mental toughness and composure that will help win the match. This doesn’t say that Holy Rosary did not bring theirs to the bronze medal game. It’s just that Bacolod Tay Tung had more. HRC was even leading 8-7 when both sides changed court. Both sides were just trading points until Marce made a wise decision of letting her spike ricochet off Monares before going out to make the count 14-all.

It looked as if HRC will win this game due to their hustle. Duarte chased a misreceived ball while all five of her teammates were in hot pursuit as well. They were able to extend the rally even though there were at the service area. Their effort was rewarded when Maveth Torres slammed an overreceived ball to give HRC a 15-14 advantage.

But they quickly gave what they have taken. Marce’s service error tied the game at 15. Then, Deloria took over. It helped that HRC setter Venice Puzon was lined up in front of her and she took advantage of it. Holy Rosary has telegraphed her cross court shots late in the game. Therefore, the senior from Bacolod Tay Tung executed two down-the-line strikes above Puzon that both landed in Zone 1 to take the win, 17-15.