RTU Lady Thunders win NAASCU volleyball crown
by rick olivares
The Rizal Technological University Lady Thunders defeated the Philippine Merchant Marine School Lady Mariners in four sets (28-30, 25-14, 25-9, 25-20) to capture their third straight NAASCU Women’s Volleyball Championship this March 8, at the RTU Gym in Mandaluyong City.
RTU middle hitter Joy Onofre finished with a match high 23 points including seven block points while open spiker Dana Persa added 10 points. RTU’s 6’1” rookie middle hitter Maerci Joyce Del Monte added eight points.
The Lady Thunder actually stumbled, losing in the first set, 28-30, as the Lady Mariners came back from a 17-10 deficit behind the scoring of Anne Bañas and Ronabell Averilla.
Bañas led her team with 17 points while Averilla chipped in 11.
“I had the girls try something different in the first set and they struggled with it,” said RTU head coach Edgar Barroga. “We woke up in the second and third sets and in the last one, well, things got a little exciting. We wanted it more, I guess.”
The Lady Thunder were without Zairyll Sky Chavez, last season’s Most Valuable Player who had to sit out the semi-finals win over San Lorenzo and the championship match due to some abdominal pain.
“I have seven players graduating including Chavez,” pointed out Barroga. “So as much as this was a farewell for them, I wanted to play our younger players to give them a boost for next season.”
True enough, it was the superb play of utility spiker Porcia Lim, Onofre, and Persa who carried the Lady Thunder to the crown. “Del Monte is good,” said Barroga of his precocious rookie, “But we need to work on her stamina and power for next season. But you can see how she affected the game with her height and reach. If we want to extend our dynasty then we are going to need her.”
It was the second straight year that the two schools clashed for the trophy and each time, PMMS came up short.
Said a visibly disappointed Bañas whose consolation prize was being named as the league’s Best Server, “Second time na ‘to. Sana, wala nang third at makabawi kami next year.”
Joining Bañas in the NAASCU Women’s Volleyball Mythical Six selection were Dana Persa who was named Best Open Spiker, Joy Onofre who was tabbed as the Best Middle Blocker, Colegio De San Lorenzo’s Souzan Raslan was named Best Opposite Hitter, Julcia Llanera of PMMS was found to be the Best Libero, and RTU’s Rowena Quiño was adjudged to be the Best Setter and the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Barroga was also named the Best Coach.
“Na-surprise ako sa MVP Award,” said Quiño who finished the game with 45 excellent sets. “Ine-expect ko si Joy Onofre or even si Dana Persa. Malaking karangalan ‘to.”