The young Megabuilders Volley Bolts sustained the momentum they gained from their come-from-behind win over the Philippine Air Force Airmen last Saturday, taking a 25-23, 25-22, 26-24 win to advance to the Men’s Open Conference semifinals, Sunday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
“Siguro nagka-confidence lang galing sa panalo kahapon,” Megabuilders assistant coach Dong dela Cruz said. “Nakita nila na kaya naman nila kaya naging maganda yung performance nila.”
But after gaining a 2-0 lead, it was the Airmen who tried to perform the same feat in this game, taking a 21-19 lead in the third set behind reigning Reinforced Conference MVP Ranran Abdilla. This was then followed by a service error by Bryan Bagunas that gave Air Force a 23-22 lead.
However, with the game knotted at 24-all, an attack error by Air Force sent Megabuilders to match point, while a decisive kill block by Fauzi Ismail booked the young Volley Bolts’ ticket to the Finals.
Ismail powered Megabuilders with 15 points, 12 from attacks, two from blocks, and an ace. Kim Malabunga chipped in 10 markers.
Besides the usual suspects for the National University Bulldogs-powered squad, it was the court generalship displayed by setter Kim Dayandante and liberos Ricky Marcos and Jann Sumagui that Dela Cruz lauded.
“Actually, team effort talaga ito. Yung maturity ng mga bata umaakyat with every game especially yung setter at mga libero namin. Maganda talaga improvement ni Kim both in maturity and in leadership pati yung passing namin,” he said, as Dayandante dished out 17 excellent sets.
Abdilla finished with a game-high 21 markers, while team captain Jeffrey Malabanan added 16 points for Air Force, a team that missed the finals for the first time in four conferences.
The youthful Volley Bolts though will face the veteran-laden Cignal HD Spikers in the Finals, a team that they defeated in straight sets last July 17, 26-24, 26-24, 25-17.
“Tapos na yun. Ibang usapin na naman ito. Yung Cignal kasi, they are composed of great players coach by an excellent coach in Coach Oliver [Almadro]. Magandang labanan ito,” Dela Cruz remarked about the Finals that begin on Wednesday, August 9.
Megabuilders (3) – Ismail 15, Malabunga 10, Natividad 8, Bagunas 8, Saura 5, Gampong 2, Dayandante 0, Ancheta 0, Marcos (L), Sumagui (L).
Air Force (0) – Abdilla 21, Malabanan 16, Jeruz 4, Labrador 4, Tolentino 4, Mojica 3, Lopez 1, Avila 0, De Ocampo 0, Chavez (L).