LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS bared its fangs early as it downed San Beda Lady Red Lions, 25-20, 25-23, 28-26. — NCAA/SYNERGY-GMA

Games Tuesday
(San Andres Complex)
9 a.m. — Mapua vs LPU (M/W)
12 p.m. — UPHSD vs JRU (W/M)

FROM languishing in the NCAA volleyball cellar a season ago, the Letran Lady Knights knew they have nowhere to go but up.

Making a crucial tweak in the roster and picking up a valuable rookie from out of nowhere, Letran bared its fangs early as it downed San Beda, 25-20, 25-23, 28-26, yesterday to seize an early share of the lead in NCAA Season 98 at the San Andres Complex.

Daisy Melendres led all hitters with 15 points including eight on kills and five on blocks to help the Lady Knights launch their ambitious campaign of making the Final Four and, perhaps, advance farther to the finals where they hope to earn a shot at their first title in 25 years.

“We have a good chance this year. Goal is top four, then whatever happens after, will just be a bonus,” said head coach Mike Inoferio, whose charges finished 10th and dead last a year ago with a 2-7 record.

Two of the reasons Letran got off to a great start were Lea Rizel Tapang’s return as spiker from being libero a season ago and the acquisition of neophyte Judiel Nitura.

The brave Ms. Tapang chipped in seven hits while Ms. Nitura, who was from Adamson high school, scattered in limited action eight points including a pair of booming kills late in the third and final set that sealed the hardworking girls from Muralla, Intramuros the win.

“She wanted to play as a libero and learn to play defense because she dreams of playing in the commercial leagues,” said Mr. Inoferio referring to Ms. Tapang’s change of roles.

“And since I punished my libero back then for having low grades, I agreed to it,” he added.

It was a heartbreaking loss for San Beda Lady Red Spikers, which blew big leads in the opening set and two set points in the third that could have kept it in the game and possibly change its outcome.

Meanwhile, in the other game, Perpetual Help Lady Altas turned back Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals , 25-21, 26-24, 25-16, to open its season on a bright note. — Joey Villar