United Volleyball Club comes from behind to win over Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors

After being down two sets to none, the United Volleyball Club won over the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in five sets in their PSL Grand Prix encounter at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

The Lady Realtors mounted a 4-1 lead in the first set and never looked back. Even though a successful spike by UVC’s Justine Tiu narrowed the gap to two, 7-5, the squad of Coach Babes Castillo embarked on a 9-2 to stretch their lead to nine, 16-7, coming into the second technical timeout. Sta. Lucia’s advantage was stretched to 13, 23-10, courtesy of a service ace by import Molly Lohman.

Rachel Ann Austero’s running spike gave set point to the Lady Realtors and a net touch infraction by United Volleyball Club ended the set for Sta. Lucia, 25-12. The Lady Realtors had 13 attack points as compared to UVC’s five while they also dominated in service aces, 4-0. Sta. Lucia also had more kill blocks, 3-1.

The Lady Realtors scored the first three points in the second set but UVC took two points back. From there, Sta. Lucia unleashed eight unanswered points to put the set away from United Volleyball Club’s reach. UVC came to within four, 14-10, but Sta. Lucia made two straight points to enter the second technical timeout with a 16-10 edge. A Pamela Lastimosa service ace that landed just inside the baseline brought the Lady Realtors to set point while Casey Schoenlein ended the set at 25-15 with an attack off a combination play.

Sta. Lucia had the advantage in attacks (11-9), blocks (3-0), and aces (3-1). They also had five errors as compared to UVC’s eight.

UVC turned things around in the third set as they mounted a 5-2 run from an 11-11 deadlock. An off-speed shot by Kalei Mau gave United Volleyball a six-point advantage, 22-16, and a Marge Tejada service ace gave set point to the Joshua Ylaya-coached squad. Lastimosa took one point back with a spike off the block but Mau ended the set at 25-17 with a booming attack from the middle. Sta. Lucia’s 11 errors proved to be costly as UVC extended the match to a fourth set.

From a 3-3 tie in the fourth set, UVC ignited a 7-2 run to take a 10-5 lead. However, the Lady Realtors trimmed the lead to one, 13-12, via a quick attack in the middle by Lohman. United Volleyball responded by utilizing their imposing spiking unit of Mau, Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, and Tai Manu-Olevao to their advantage. But after UVC posted a 22-16 lead, Sta. Lucia slashed the lead in half with three straight points.

Bedart-Ghani clinched set point from a one-handed back set by Alohi Robins-Hardy but Schoenlein and Villanueva made two quick points to stay in the set. Another forceful spike from Bedart-Ghani forced a fifth and deciding set, 25-22. Even though United Volleyball had more errors, they connected on 18 attack in the set while Sta. Lucia only had 12.

UVC raced to a 6-2 lead in the fifth set but Sta. Lucia tied the count at six courtesy of Lohman and Schoenlein. Teams traded points until the count reached 8-all but Mau connected on five straight attacks to open a 13-8 advantage. She also collected a kill block to bring United Volleyball to set point but Tejada’s service error gave some life to the Lady Realtors. However, it was the former Arizona Wildcat who finished the set and the match for UVC at 15-9 with another successful spike.

Bedart-Ghani and Manu-Olevao were named Players of the Game. The first-time PSL import had 21 attacks and an ace while the returning reinforcement had seven attacks and an ace. Mau finished with 19 attacks, two blocks, and an ace.

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