The volleybelles of the Southwestern University (SWU) dethroned reigning champions University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) to claim the title in the women?s division of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) volleyball tournament yesterday at the packed University of San Carlos gym.
SWU hurdled the formidable USPF squad in five sets to steer the Cobras to their first ever major title in league history since joining the Cesafi three years ago.
SWU won the title match as they came back from a set down, 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13. The loss was USPF?s first and only defeat in the tournament.
SWU completed the victory with composure uncommon in a team loaded with sophomores and juniors as they overcame a two-point deficit late in the deciding fifth set.
USPF had the momentum as a spike by star player Erika Verano gave them a 12-10 lead. But a three point cluster from SWU, courtesy of a block on Verano, a holding infraction on Honeylyn Ybarita and another error by USPF quickly turned the tide and put SWU in front, 13-12.
Verano quickly knotted the count at 13-all as she sent home another spike attack but the supposed savior of USPF also turned out to be its goat as on the next possession, Verano sent the service sailing out of bounds to give SWU a one-point lead, 14-13.
SWU?s Rhea Loayon was deployed to just send the service in but she turned out to be the team?s heroine as her serve proved to be too much to handle for USPF?s Rhea Taculod to end the match in their favor, 15-13.
SWU started off with a bang as they took the first set with a mixture of savvy play and the error-prone performance of USPF.
But the Lady Panthers recovered their bearings in the next two cantos with Verano and Apple Saraum, the same duo that gave USPF a national title in the beach volley scene this year, leading the way.
SWU?s Rapril Aguilar, who hit her head on the floor during the final point of the third set, then played with a renewed sense of urgency and ferocity as she ignored the nagging pain and slammed in spikes from all over the court to catapult the Lady Cobras to a decisive victory in the fourth set.
Stalwarts Danika Gendrauli, Lorei Mae Layno, Elizabeth Emnace and Danalyn Baquiro then carried the fight for SWU in the early goings of the fifth set to prevent USPF from running away with the match.