NCAA Season 97 revolved around two undefeated squads.
The Letran Knights and the CSB Lady Blazers.
The basketball wing of the tourney had two former UST players joining an already stacked lineup. Rhenz Abando became the league's Rookie MVP because he qualified to be one and the NCAA's now-wider reach propelled the post-college careers of Converge's Justin Arana and Jeo Ambohot, Northport's JM Calma, and Terrafirma's Allen Mina.
Letran zoom-passed all of their opponents to successfully defend their NCAA Season 95 championship. Sure, it would have been better if San Beda faced Letran with Abando taking on James Kwekuteye. However, Mapua had every right to destroy that narrative as they displayed a more balanced attack led by Warren Bonifacio, Paolo Hernandez, and Rence Nocum. Moreover, San Beda basketball fans are a given. Getting other teams like Mapua, CSB, Perpetual, and the rest of the league on board would help erase the stigma of NCAA being a Letran and San Beda-dominated league.
And then there's the CSB Lady Blazers.
What's scary about this team is that Mycah Go, Gayle Pascual, Michelle Gamit, Jade Gentapa, and the rest of the Blazers will return to Season 98 with an intact lineup. The Lady Blazers played 34 sets this season and lost only one. In some ways, it makes you wonder if there is a chance for CSB and UAAP's NU Lady Bulldogs to arrange a fight to determine the best college volleyball team in the country.
In the two Finals games they played, Arellano had spunk in both first sets and then they slowly succumb to CSB's savage gameplay. The Lady Blazers just did every team dirty with their super-charged squad.
I guess in Season 98, I can see Letran somewhat struggling with the loss of Jeo Ambohot and Christian Fajarito. But the loss of the two means more time for my favorite NCAA Bash Brothers combo of Pao Javillonar and Mark Louie Sangalang. Both players have identical play styles and they taunt like hell whenever they do something cool on offense.
CSB, meanwhile, is a cinch to repeat - if their girls manage to stay away from injuries. If they are going to pick a problem to carry over to the next season, it is the fact that despite their immaculate record, only Go was able to get an award. I thought Pascual murdered the ball every time her hands touch it and I thought Gamit is a defensive menace. I thought they should have dominated the awards race with the way they are playing.
And oh, I also need to check out their numbers. I want to learn how to power rank volleyball games and admittedly, I don't know much beyond the services aces, sets and spikes, digs, and blocks stats.