Mary Jean Balse is now feeling comfortable in a maroon uniform.
The hard-hitting spiker dished out a near-flawless game to power the Lyceum Lady Pirates to a 25-17, 23-25, 25-13, 25-21 victory over the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in the 7th Shakey's V-League at The Arena in San Juan on Thursday.
Balse, who suited up as guest player for Lyceum after her mother team, University of Santo Tomas, took a leave this second conference, scattered 27 hits and two blocks that allowed the Lady Pirates to recover from a second set breakdown.
"She's slowly getting in top form," Lyceum coach Emilio Lontoc said of the national team mainstay, who took up commerce at UST.
It was the first time that the league's lone two-time Most Valuable Player winner played for another team other than UST, whom she powered – as a reinforcement or mainstay – to three of its record six championships.
The Lady Pirates actually failed to play consistently with 31 errors, but made up for it by fortifying their defensive wall that put FEU's offensive in disarray. The Lady Tamaraws were toothless in attack, converting only 41 out of 154 attempts.
Joy Cases and guest player Dahlia Cuz backed up Balse with a combined 33 hits, four blocks and two aces as the Lady Pirates regained their form in the third set to hack out the victory in 52 minutes.
The win allowed the Lady Pirates to rebound from their straight set loss to San Sebastian-Excelroof last Sunday, while the loss dropped the Lady Tamaraws to 0-2, after bowing to Ateneo in the opener.
The win spoiled the debut of FEU guest player Michelle Carolino, who did not play in the team's opening game due to the delay of clearance from the AFP.
Carolino, who partnered with Balse in UST in the previous conference, scored team-high 16 kills while guest player Rachel Anne Dacquis, who is being eyed to play for two German teams, made 13 hits built around two blocks and an ace.
Francis Santiago, Manila Bulletin