Missing two key players, the National University Bulldogs-powered Megabuilders Volley Bolt eked out a tight debut win over University of Santo Tomas-backed Army Troopers, 25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-22, 20-18, in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
With ace hitters Bryan Bagunas and JM Natividad in Cebu for a Beach Volleyball Republic tournament, the Megabuilders had to find offensive contributions from several players. The tight result was also a product of sparse preparation time, said assistant coach Dong Dela Cruz.
“Kailan lang kasi bumalik, kailan lang kami nag-training ulet ‘yung mga players. Kadalasan conditioning lang kasi, after ng UAAP, nagsiuwian sa kani-kanilang mga probinsya,” said Dela Cruz who added that some of his players had just returned earlier this week.
Tawi-Tawi natives Madz Gampong and Fauzi Ismail punched in 21 and 18 points, respectively, while captain Francis Saura moved to the open hitter position and managed a game-high 24 points for the Megabuilders.
The Bulldogs had to rally back and force a decider after Army scrambled a 2-1 sets lead. The Megabuilders stormed ahead, 11-7, in the fifth set before their attack collapsed and allowed Army to take match point, 14-13. The Megabuilders, however, had too much firepower down the stretch, with Saura and Ismail pulling off crucial blocks that keyed their win.
The Megabuilders (1-0) face the Café Lupe Sunrisers (0-1) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Former UST Tiger Spiker Romnick Rico led Army with 18 points while current Tiger Spiker Manuel Medina added 16.
Army will try to recover against the Air Force Jet Spikers (1-0) next Sunday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Megabuilders (3) – Saura 24, Gampong 21, Ismail 18, Malabunga 7, Dayandante 3, Daymil 3, Ponti 2, Ancheta 0, Mondero 0, Marcos (L)
Army (2) – Rico 18, Medina 16, Sumagaysay 10, Carodan 9, Labide 8, Torres 5, Tajanlangit 3, Bautista 2, Abdumajid 0, Depamaylo 0, Uy (L)