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Alfafara powers Tigers past feisty Green Spikers

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After being behind early in sets, the UST Tigers rallied past an upset-hungry DLSU Spikers, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 27-25 at the San Juan Arena.

Known for being the only player to have won all individual offensive skill awards throughout his career, UST’s Mark Alfafara led multiple comeback attempts for his team as he displayed his full arsenal of skills. Alfafara led all scorers with 23 points off 16 attacks, six aces, and a block. Opposite spiker Arnold Bautista bolstered the Thomasians’ attack with a season-high 20-point outing.

The La Sallians held a late 23-16 lead in the first set thanks to superb attacking from Ralph Calasin and Mike Frey. UST’s Patrick Balse led a furious comeback from the service area, calmly sinking nine-straight serves for his team to easily recover. The Thomasian blocking line of Sarabia-Alfafara-Tajanlangit stifled the once-hot attacking of La Salle and prevented them from winning any more points from then on.

Alfafara continued his fierce spiking early into the second set, demolishing La Salle’s spikers from everywhere to give UST an easy set win. The third frame had La Salle middle blocker Aaron Calderon find his groove, giving the Thomasians fits with his quick attacks and running stabs, landing La Salle their only set win.

The La Sallians had the lead for most of the fourth set, their largest coming at 17-13. A fired-up Alfafara carried his team once again, uncharacteristically taunting La Salle’s spikers after each successful attack. With the set tied at 21, Balse committed the most nonsensical service error of the season, momentarily handing DLSU the momentum and a 23-21 lead. From there, La Salle did not find their offense, handing UST soft attacks that they easily returned; were it not for UST’s attack errors, the set would not have gone into deuce.

The win powers the Tigers to a 9-3 record, tied with Adamson for second place while La Salle sits at seventh with a 3-9 slate. The Tigers will face sixth place UP on Wednesday at the MoA Arena while La Salle has another chance at an upset against the first place Ateneo Eagles on the same day.

The scores:

UST – Alfafara 23, Bautista 20, Balse 9, Rico 7, Sarabia 7, Guzman 4, Tajanlangit 2, Castillo 0, Pangan (L) 0, Francisco (L) 0

DLSU – Calderon 19, Frey 12, Onia 10, Calasin 9, Santos 7, Bartolome 2, Del Pilar 2, Dumago 2, Dimayuga 1, Christensen 0, Dizon (L) 0, Movido (L) 0

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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