Arellano University crawled back from two sets down to stun Emilio Aguinaldo College, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-13, and secure its spot in the NCAA Season 95 Men’s Volleyball Semifinals, Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Chiefs brushed aside an early deficit, weathering a huge storm from Joshua Mina through their net defense. They then dug deep in the succeeding frames to disarm the Generals.
“Sabi ko naman, wala namang pressure basta gawin lang nila ‘yung everyday na ginagawa namin, especially sa block. So para maka-recover, mag-double time kami sa block,” said Arellano head coach Sherwin Meneses. “‘Yung atake kasi, tiwala ako sa atake namin. Nag-respond naman mga player, okay naman ‘yung resulta.”
The come-from-behind win elevated Arellano’s slate to 6-2 at solo third. Meanwhile, EAC suffered its second defeat in nine matches.
“Napakalaking panalo kasi nito kasi na-secure namin ‘yung sa semifinals. So, [na-]assure na namin na malaking chance namin makapasok sa semifinals,” Meneses added.
The Chiefs flaunted their solid blocking schemes, netting an eye-popping 16 kill blocks to EAC’s two. More importantly, their stifling defense above the net gave them crucial separation at the critical stretch of the match.
Staring at an 11-13 deficit, Mina — who had scored five points in the decider — tried to resuscitate the Generals with his vaunted scoring prowess. But as he soared for a cross-court spike, Jesrael Liberato and Christian Segovia met him at the top and roofed him emphatically to lift Arellano to match point.
The Chiefs coughed out consecutive attack errors in the ensuing sequences, giving the Generals a glimmer of hope. But Mina failed to capitalize on the momentum-swinging miscues of Arellano, sending his potential equalizer long.
Liberato was a defensive force with five kill blocks, to go along with 18 attacks en route to a team-high 23 points. Kim Vincent Tan and Christian Dela Paz supplied 13 markers apiece while Segovia chimed in 11.
On the other hand, the Generals ended the elimination phase with a slump after seeing their then-unbeaten run snapped at the hands of Perpetual before this deflating loss.
Mina put up a monster triple-double outing of 27 points, 24 receptions and 17 digs that went for naught. Aeron Daduya and Danrich Melad managed 16 and 14 markers in a losing cause.
Arellano seeks to end its preliminaries on a high note when it collides with St. Benilde. Meanwhile, EAC prepares for the next phase as it awaits the completion of the semifinals cast.