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Lady Pirates stay in hunt

MANILA, Philippines — Losing three straight entering the NCAA Season 99 women’s volleyball stepladder semifinals would usually send one into pangs of despair and panic.

Not the Lyceum of the Philippines University Lady Pirates.

Instead, LPU used it as motivation and driving force in carving out a 25-17, 24-26, 25-20, 25-19 win over Arellano U at the Filoil EcoOil Arena to stay in the hunt.

“Yung losing streak na tatlo, hindi na namin kinonsider going into the stepladder semis, sabi ko reset na tayo from 0-0 talaga,” said LPU coach Cromwel Garcia. “Dun lumabas yung maturity, parang lalo sila naging eager na trabahuhin ang pagkukulang in the past few games.”

The victory sent LPU, the No. 3 seed, into another knockout duel, this time against No. 2 Letran Wednesday.

If they survive again, the Lady Pirates will make a return trip to the finals where they battle the St. Benilde Lady Blazers, the league’s dynastic champions who sealed the first finals seat with a nine-game elims sweep.

Janeth Tulang was at the center of it all, doing practically everything – from attacking with 23 points to defending with five blocks, 11 digs and eight receptions.

It was also poetic justice as Tulang, LPU’s third scoring option, made AU pay for focusing on Johna Dolorito and Joan Doguna, who finished with 17 and seven hits, respectively.