A brand new Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls squad rallied back from a two-set deficit to stun the Café Lupe Sunrisers, 21-25, 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 15-12, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
This is the Wrecking Balls’ first win of the new conference, and it went down-to-the-wire — something that head coach Arnold Laniog and his team had struggled with during the 2016 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference.
“Ganun talaga pag first game talaga, kahit sino kalaban, natatalo kami. At least this time, nang natapos yung laro, pabor sa amin,” Laniog said.
Ace Mandani towed Sta. Elena with 16 markers, 14 coming off attacks coupled by two aces. University of the East Red Warrior Edward Camposano added 14 markers.
But the team had to overcome early game jitters as the majority of their 35 errors came in the first two sets as Laniog shuffled his line-up to find the perfect combination.
“Kanina, di nag-click yung team namin nung first two sets. Nagpalit kami. Nung nahanap na namin yung combination nung third set, dun na kami nag-stick,” Laniog recalled.
Once they found their bearings, the Wrecking Balls easily disposed of Café Lupe in the next two sets.
“Nung nakuha namin yung third and fourth, naging kampante na ako nun,” Laniog admitted.
In the final set, Sta. Elena were able to break away late, leading by as much as five points capped by a Mandani kill to seal the match.
“Kahit lumamang sila nung fifth set kanina, kampante pa rin ako. Kanina umiiskor yung kalaban, focused pa rin yung mga players hindi tulad nung first two sets,” the champion NCAA mentor said.
Skipper Berlin Paglinawan and Isaah Arda added 11 markers each.
Jahir Ebrahim scored a game-high 17 points for Café Lupe, but the team committed a horrid 43 erors in the contest.
Sta. Elena will welcome the Philippine Air Force to the brand-new conference on Thursday, May 4, at 10:00am. Café Lupe, on the other hand, look to recover from this loss as they face the Philippine Army on Saturday, May 6, at 12:00nn.
“Habang wala pa yung mga players nila from NU, tatake advantage namin yun,” Laniog shared about their match-up against the veteran-laden PAF.
Sta. Elena (106) – Mandani 16, Camposano 14, Paglinawan 11, Arda 11, Raymundo 5, Encina 3, Camaganakan 2, Rosete 1, Deximo 0, Asia 0, Enciso 0, Mendiola (L), Almario (L), Opp. Errors 35.
Cafe Lupe (94) – Ebrahim 17, Barrica 10, Liberato 10, Sioson 8, Doliente 8, Pablico 3, Meneses 2, Evangelista 1, Ocampo 0, Flores 0, Hizon 0, Sebastian 0, Chua (L), Opp. Errors 35.