After Sta. Elena’s five-set win over Café Lupe last Tuesday, head coach Arnold Laniog had stressed that they needed to take advantage of an undermanned Philippine Air Force.
Still without their reinforcements from the National University Bulldogs — namely Bryan Bagunas, Fauzi Ismail, and Kim Malabunga — the defending champions were easily disposed of by the Wrecking Balls, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22, Thursday morning at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Sabihin natin na kahit hindi sila kumpleto at kundisyon, Air Force pa rin is Air Force. Makakatulong ito sa amin sa mga susunod na game,” Laniog said, as Sta. Elena are now 2-0 in the standings. “Eventually sana ma-polish pa namin yung mga kailangan pa namin ayusin for next game.”
Skipper Berlin Paglinawan, who is in tip-top shape this conference, steered Sta. Elena with 16 points, 14 off attacks and coupled by two aces. And when the Airmen had tried to rally back in the third set, leading by as much as four points, it was Paglinawan who quelled the run.
“Siya yung inappoint namin na captain ball. Pinapakita niya na kailangan niya mag-take charge,” Laniog said about his team captain. “Tulad kanina, kahit lumamang yung kalaban ng four points nung third set, siya yung nag-initiate. Nahabol because of his service. Naramdaman din ng mga kakampi niya yun at napasa sa kanila.”
Former University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon Evan Raymundo and former University of the East Red Warrior Edward Camposano chipped in seven and six markers respectively.
Sta. Elena had five aces in the game, while Air Force — a team that had fielded just 10 spikers this game — committed 30 errors.
“Nag-focus kami on service receive at pinalakas namin yung first attack namin and at the same time yung serve namin. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, since first game pa lang ng Air Force, kung hindi makapasa yung kalaban kunin namin sa block,” said Laniog, who had steered Saint Benilde to their first-ever Men’s Volleyball crown.
“Tapos focus on floor defense — yun yung wala sa amin nung first game. Dun kami lumamang kanina,” he furthered.
Far Eastern University alumnus Karl dela Calzada was the only Air Force spiker to score in double-figures with 18 points.
Air Force will not have ace spiker Howard Mojica for the entire season due to mandatory military training.
Sta. Elena will have a week-long break before facing the IEM Volley Masters on Thursday, May 11, at 1:00pm. Air Force will finally field in their complete squad when they face the same team on Saturday, May 13, at 1:00pm.
Sta. Elena (75) – Paglinawan 16, Raymundo7, Camposano 6, Mandani 5, Enciso 4, Arda 4, Asia 2, Rosete 1, Encina 0, Deximo 0, Almario (L), Mendiola (L), Opp. Errors 30.
Air Force (60) – Dela Calzada 18, Malabanan 9, Jeruz 5, Labrador 5, Marmeto 3, Lopez 2, Marmeto 0, Chavez (L), Opp. Errors 18.