NCAA volleyball: JRU trips Lyceum, rejoins Final Four | Inquirer Sports
NCAA VOLLEYBALL

NCAA volleyball: JRU trips Lyceum, rejoins Final Four

The Lady Bombers will make their first Final Four appearance since 2018. —NCAA/GMA PHOTO

The Lady Bombers will make their first Final Four appearance since 2018. —NCAA/GMA PHOTO

The last time Jose Rizal University (JRU) made the Final Four of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, it was backstopped by the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), who was doing commentary on TV on Tuesday afternoon.

The Lady Bombers are back in the semifinals again.

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But as much as they had to sweat it out to hose down the challenge of the Lyceum Lady Pirates, their 25-11, 16-25, 17-25, 25-21, 17-15 victory at Paco Arena may be just a sign of things to come.

JRU clinched the last semifinal berth for the Season 97 tournament, but an elimination round sweep by top seed St. Benilde meant that if the Lady Bombers are nursing championship aspirations, they would need to run a stepladder gauntlet that begins with a duel on Friday against third seed San Sebastian.

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Long road ahead

It’s an arduous task, considering the prize that awaits the winner of that match is a showdown with No. 2 seed Arellano, whose Lady Chiefs had won the three previous stagings of the tournament and own a twice-to-beat bonus.

But it wasn’t a time to worry about the long road ahead, especially for graduating star Dolly Verzosa, whose all-around performance of 11 points, 12 digs and 12 receptions was a steadying force for the Lady Bombers.

“I’m overwhelmed. I feel like crying. I’m so happy, especially since Kia [Melgar] and I, we agreed that it didn’t matter if this was going to be our last game or if we get to extend our stint—we were really going all out today,” said Verzosa, the team’s open spiker.

Sydney Niegos came through with 14 points, including three blocks and two service aces, to lead JRU while Melgar was also helpful with her nine points and 13 digs.

Verzosa produced the point that put JRU ahead, 13-12, before Lyceum came up with one final push. Zonxi Dahab scored an ace that put the Lady Pirates at matchpoint, but they collapsed under pressure, committing three errors that crushed their Final Four hopes.

“It was really just the breaks of the game,” Lyceum coach Cromwel Garcia said. “Toughness really mattered and it was a very good learning [experience] for us. I’m satisfied with how the players performed. We just fell short.”

JRU first made the Final Four in 2018 behind star outside hitter Shola Alvarez, who was named MVP that season. Since then, the Lady Bombers had finished in the outside fringes of the playoffs until this year’s breakthrough.

Alvarez was doing commentary for the TV broadcast of the game and was caught by cameras getting emotional over the victory. INQ

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