Behind skipper Berlin Paglinawan, the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls did not let up, sweeping the IEM Phoenix Volley Masters, 25-16, 25-20, 25-21, Sunday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Sta. Elena join Cignal, Air Force, and Megabuilders as the four victors in the opening weekend of the Men’s Open Conference.
Former National University Bulldog Berlin Paglinawan towed Sta. Elena with 20 points, 19 off attacks, while current Saint Benilde Blazer Isaah Arda added 10 markers.
According to head coach Arnold Laniog, the result stemmed both from his team playing with a sense of urgency and from a sluggish start by IEM.
“Nagsabay ‘yung magandang ginalaw namin at ‘yung hindi magandang ginalaw ng kalaban,” said Laniog, who is also the mentor of the CSB Blazers.
Sta. Elena exposed the floor defense of IEM all throughout, scoring 45 on attacks while tallying six aces. Moreover, the Wrecking Balls were able to showcase their new recruits Joven Camaganakan, who scored seven points, and setter Nico Ramirez, who chipped in four markers while dishing out 32 excellent sets.
“Hindi pa naman sagad ‘yung nilaro namin. Kailangan pa namin mag-improve,” Laniog added. “Pero magandang simula ‘to. Hopefully, mas maayos pa namin ‘yung chemistry namin kasi may mga bago din kami.”
Former Far Eastern University standout Greg Dolor paced IEM with 12 points. Former Wrecking Ball Kurl Rosete added 11 points.
Sta. Elena will face a tough task in their next outing when they face last conference’s runners-up Air Force on Wednesday, July 5, at 1:00pm. IEM, on the other hand, will have a six-day break before facing the Café Lupe Sunrisers on Saturday, July 8.
Sta. Elena (3) – Paglinawan 20, Arda 10, Encina 8, Camaganakan 7, Ramirez 4, Basilan 3, Pablico 1, Camposano 1, Deximo 1, Bacani 0, Almario (L), Dy (L).
IEM (0) – Dolor 12, Rosete 11, Gatdula 7, Sarcena 4, Guanzon 2, Viray 1, Canlas 1, Conde 0, Refugia 0, Chungbingco 0, Longavela (L), Melgar (L)