After falling to the highly-touted Cignal HD Spikers to end the elimination round, the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls were down and defeated. But needing to move on, the Wrecking Balls were able to re-group just in time for the post-season.
And it showed Saturday afternoon as the Wrecking Balls worked as one to overcome Mark Alfafara and the HD Spikers in four sets, 25-20, 24-26, 25-22, 30-28, to take Game One of the best-of-three semifinals series in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League Men’s Reinforced Conference.
“The moment natapos yung game namin last time, nag-evaluate kami. Sabi ko, hangga’t hindi ko pa nakikita yung pina-practice namin, hindi kami aangat,” Sta. Elena head coach Arnold Laniog recalled.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, tatalunin natin yung Cignal kapag kargado ang service natin para mahirapan yung mga heavy hitter nila. Kanina, yun yung naging key namin, yung service at yung block namin,” the mentor added, as Sta. Elena had an 8-4 advantage in blocks and a whopping 11-5 edge in aces.
University of the East Red Warrior Edward Camposano powered Sta. Elena with 22 points, 18 coming from attacks, three aces, and a block. And he proved to be pivotal down the stretch.
With Alfafara towing Cignal to a 28-27 lead in the fourth set, Camposano was able to score off the block to knot the game, then followed it up with a block on Ysay Marasigan for the advantage. Fellow UE Red Warrior Ace Mandani then caught the HD Spikers napping, scoring on an ace to seal the win.
“Sa lahat ng laro namin, ngayon ko lang nakita na in-line sila sa isa’t isa. Pag nagbigay ako ng instruction, naiintidihan nila kaagad,” remarked Laniog, who helped steer the Saint Benilde Blazers to their first NCAA crown. “Kanina ko lang nakita na magaan sila, na kahit nag-eeror, walang personalan. Tumrabaho lang sila.”
Even if they gave up a huge 20-15 lead in the second set that led to a 24-26 loss, Laniog and the Wrecking Balls remained confident, believing that they were in control all throughout.
“Nung natalo kami nung second set, controlled pa rin namin yung flow ng laro. Breaks of the game lang. Nung nag-deuce kanina, naka-focus pa rin sila sa game,” Laniog added.
Skipper Berlin Paglinawan and Kurl Rosete added 13 and 12 markers each.
Alfafara finished the game with 17 markers while Marasigan chipped in 15 points. Vince Mangulabnan tossed 38 excellent sets.
Game Two will take place on Tuesday, June 6, at 10:00am. The game will take place at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Sta. Elena (104) – Camposano 22, Paglinawan 13, Rosete 12, Mandani 9, Enciso 7, Deximo 3, Raymundo 3, Camaganakan 2, Encina 1, Asia 0, Mendiola (L), Almario (L), Opp Error 32.
Cignal (96) – Alfafara 17, Marasigan 15, Torres 10, Intal 9, Capate 5, Castel 3, Bonono 2, Mangulabnan 2, Villanueva 1, Diezmo 1, Faytaren 0, Ramos 0, Montero (L).