The Adamson University Falcons nearly fell victims to the upset-hungry University of the Philippines Maroons, claiming a tight five-setter 25-18, 25-23, 18-25, 18-25, 15-13 in the UAAP Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Maroons could not sustain a spirited start to the first frame. AdU open hitter Jerome Sarmiento took the Falcons from a 7-8 deficit to an 12-8 lead after a hit and two aces. Mike Sudaria and Bryan Saraza each crushed a spike, forcing a UP timeout at 14-9. Down the stretch, Adamson continued attacking aggressively, protecting their lead, 22-17. The Maroons attempted a late comeback after lineup adjustments that gave them a full a front line. But Adamson middle blocker Dave Pletado provided the finishing flourish off a tip and a block, giving Adamson the 1-0 lead.
Managing their miscues more effectively, UP maintained a tie for much of the second frame. Knotted at 15, the Falcons bolted ahead, 19-15, after a Sarmiento hit and three UP errors. Having gotten an earful from head coach Rod Palmero in a timeout, the Maroons fought back and made the set interesting. A successful Evan Raymundo stint at the service line powered a run that brought UP to within one, 19-20. From there, both squads traded points, with the Maroons setting combination plays for Wendel Miguel and Adamson getting points from every spiker. Leading 23-22, Adamson’s Saraza capped a combination play to lift the Falcons to set point. Saraza’s own crossing violation gave UP a chance at a deuce. But Sarmiento quickly retaliated in the following point, slapping a hit past two blockers to clinch the set.
The next two sets saw the Falcons’ major collapse, as UP ramped up their net and floor defense. The Falcons were unable to keep up. Bolstered by Alfred Valbuena, Mark Millete, and Wendel Miguel’s offense, UP drubbed the Falcons in the third and fourth set to force a fifth frame.
Adamson sophomore Pao Pablico was instrumental in helping Adamson break away from a 5-all tie to an 8-5 lead. From there, the Falcons seemed to have control as they sprinted to match point, 14-10. Three late Adamson errors, however, put the match on the brink of a deuce. But Player of the Game Saraza saved the Falcons with a strong off-the-block hit.
“Hindi ako satisfied sa nilaro namin,” said Adamson head coach Domingo Custodio. “Bumitaw kami sa block at receive noong third at fourth set. Talagang pinaghandaan kami ng UP. Mabuti na lang nakabangon kami sa dulo.”
Sarmiento fired off 19 points, while Saraza finished with 18 markers and 11 excellent receptions. Team captain Mike Sudaria added 16 points and Pablico contributed 13.
Miguel had an all-around brilliant outing for the Maroons, scoring 21 points while contributing defensively with 25 excellent recpetions and six digs. Valbuena scored all 18 of his points in the latter three sets, while rookie Mark Millete managed 13 points.
The Falcons (5-1) will next face the University of Santo Tomas Tigers (1-3) on Saturday, 8 a.m. at the Smart Araneta Colesium. UP (3-3) will try to keep a firm grasp on fourth place against the University of the East Warriors (0-6) on Sunday, 10 a.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
AdU (3) – Sarmiento 19, Saraza 18, Sudaria 16, Pablico 13, Pletado 7, Ramirez 3, Yude 0, Consunji 0, Mendiolla (L), Melgar (L)
UP (2) – Miguel 21, Valbuena 18, Millete 13, San Pascual 9, Raymundo 8, Baldelovar 1, Consuelo 1, San Pedro 1, Nasol (L)