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Blazers’ late rally buries Tamaraws; end season with a bang

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Out of contention for the Spikers’ Turf Final Four even before the match started, the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Blazers punctuated their season with a resounding comeback win over the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws 17-25, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 17-15 at the FilOIl Flying V Arena.

Much to the delight of their head coach, Arnold Laniog, the Blazers had to grind out the sets they won as he looked to expose their players to high-pressure situations before the upcoming NCAA season. “’Yung team ko kasi galling sa medyo mahabang break over the weekend. Hindi sila masyadong sanay na maglalaro na hindi galing sa ensayo kaya medyo mabagal ‘yung simula. Mabuti na lang pag dumarating sa crucial moments ‘yung mga set, may nagdedeliver para sa amin,” he said.

“Si Johnvic [De Guzman] kapag binibigyan namin siya ng analysis, masasabi namin na strong player siya kaso medyo kulang pa sa gulang lalo na kapag kailangan namin ng points. Ang gusto namin mai-develop p sa kanya lalo ‘yung hihingiin niya ‘yung bola kapag gipitan,” answered Laniog when asked about his star player.

The PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Spiker scored a season-high 28 points off 21 attacks, four blocks, and three aces and was the only Blazer who broke double-digits. De Guzman was crucial in the fifth set where he outdueled FEU’s Greg Dolor.

The Blazers initially had the advantage in the fifth set as they had match point at 14-12. FEU, however, responded with Dolor firing off a kill then Kris Silang nabbing a block to force a deuce. A CSB attack error followed giving FEU its only chance at match point, 15-14. From there, CSB took control, first going to De Guzman to tie the set at 15. FEU’s Jude Garcia then fired an attack long setting up a Racky Etrone open hit to end the match.

The Tamaraws accumulated more point throughout the match (110-98) but failed to deliver in tight sets. Third-year, multi-position hitter Dolor finished with a team high 24 markers, libero turned hitter Rikko Marmeto dished out 15, rookie open hitter Jude Garcia dropped 13 while fellow rookie, middle blocker Peter Quiel added 11 points for the Tamaraws.

FEU had a tumultuous start to their season, dropping their first three matches as they opted to field their rookies more. They won their final two matches of their first round, first against the University of the East Warriors then a do-or-die tilt with the Mapua Cardinals. Entering the second round with just a 0-3 carry over record, FEU won just one match from their against the University of Philippines Maroons.

CSB entered the second round with a similar 0-3 record but managed to win a crucial matchup against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals who beat CSB in the NCAA Finals last season. CSB finishes their season with a 2-5 record.

“Mabuti nang nagamit namin ‘tong Spikers’ Turf para maimprove ‘yung chemistry ng team,” said Laniog, emphasizing the importance of getting his new open hitters and libero acclimated into heavier roles with team. “Maganda na ‘rin na may mga natalo kami dito, especially ‘yung EAC.”

The Scores

CSB (3) – De Guzman 28, Orian 9, Etrone 8, Basilan 8, Relata 5, Arda 3, Coming 1, Deximo 1, Chua 0, Ugalde 0, Amparo (L)

FEU (2) – Dolor 24, Marmeto 15, Garcia 13, Quiel 11, Bugaoan 5, Paler 2, Silang, 2, Solis 2, Navas 0, Suarez 0, Barrica (L)

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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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