Ateneo gives setter KC Cortez, coach Sergio Veloso winning debuts
MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo rookie setter KC Cortez gave new coach Sergio Veloso a successful debut after staving off a gritty Mapua University, 25-23, 25-20, 35-33, in the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship Season 2 on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Cortez, a prized recruit from Bacolod Tay Tung High School, played her first game as a Blue Eagle with 21 excellent sets that led to four Blue Eagles scoring in double figures in the all-to-play format.
The young playmaker displayed composure in the neck-and-neck third set, where they overcame a 31-32 deficit with Lyann De Guzman drilling three of their last four points to get their first win in Pool D.
“I didn’t let the pressure get the better of me. I trusted my teammates, listened to my coaches, and executed what we do in practice,” said Cortez after the game.
Beginning life without star Faith Nisperos, who opted to turn pro, De Guzman finished with 14 points — 10 coming from the third set. AC Miner and Sophia Buena had 11 points each, while Gena May Hora chipped in 10 points.
Libero Roma Mae Doromal protected Ateneo’s floor in their first preseason appearance under Brazilian coach Veloso, who replaced Oliver Almadro after his four-season tenure.
Mapua slid to a 0-2 record in Pool D, which Far Eastern University leads with a 2-0 record.
Roxie Dela Cruz led the Lady Cardinals with 16 points, while Freighanne Seanelle Garcia had 10 markers in another loss.
Meanwhile, National University banked on Bella Belen’s 13 points to sweep San Sebastian College, 25-18, 25-15, 25-13, and stay unbeaten in two games in Pool A.
Riding on the momentum of their straight-set win over University of the East less than 24 hours ago, the Lady Bulldogs sustained their nearly unstoppable form with former UAAP rookie MVP Belen leading the way this time.
Captain Erin Pangilinan was also instrumental for NU with nine points, as Vange Alinsug delivered eight points with reigning SSL MVP Alyssa Solomon and rookie Arah Panique seeing limited action and combining for nine markers.
San Sebastian dropped to a 1-1 record in Pool A with Kath Santos carrying the cudgels with nine points.
Earlier, Laika Tudlasan secured Arellano University’s spot to the next round after pouring in 19 points on 17 hits and two aces to torch Lyceum, 25-22, 17-25, 25-21, 25-17.
Tudlasan drew support from Marianne Padillion with 14 points as Donnalyn Paralejas dished out 22 excellent sets on top of four points.
Lyceum dropped to a 1-1 record with Stacey Lopez leading the charge with 11 points. Johna Dolorito and Hiromi Osada had 10 each ahead of their do-or-die duel against Adamson (1-0) on Monday.