Despite an uncharacteristically bad game for Marck Espejo, the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns swept the IEM Volley Masters in straight sets, 25-18, 25-23, 25-23, Tuesday morning at the San Juan Arena.
Cagayan was off to a 6-3 start early on in the opening set. Things didn’t get any better for IEM as they were unable to nip at the lead despite their best efforts. Cagayan was able to double the output of IEM, taking a 14-7 lead midway through the set. Both teams battled it out, but there was never a doubt that Cagayan would come away with the set win.
However, Cagayan jumped the gun on IEM again at the start of set two, taking a 6-2 lead early on. IEM rallied back; with Espejo committing a service error, Berlin Paglinawan getting denied by the defenders, and a Karl Dela Calzada point off the block, IEM managed to trim the deficit to 2, 7-5. Cagayan started to get sloppy, committing numerous errors. With the set tied at 11-all, IEM went on a 5-0 run that gave them a seemingly comfortable 16-11 lead. Cagayan bounced back, however, outscoring IEM 6-0 on a run sparked by former National University players, Paglinawan and Peter Torres. From then on, both teams kept the set close, eventually ending up in a tie at 23-all. Cagayan then took control of the set with a Rex Intal kill and Brendon Santos service ace.
The start of the third set was sloppy for both teams, there was even a stretch wherein both teams combined for four consecutive errors, with Cagayan holding a slim 6-5 lead. Cagayan was the first to regain its composure, outscoring IEM 10-4 to take a 16-9 lead. IEM blasted four consecutive points, capped by a Salvador Timbal service ace, to trim the deficit to three. Torres put an end to the run with a spike that went off the hands of Areem Tamayo. Timbal was able to cut the deficit to a single point, scoring off the block twice, sandwiched by a Peter Torres attack error. Dela Calzada tried to keep IEM in the game, scoring the team’s last two points, but Cagayan proved too much, with Torres scoring off the block, and Rudy Gatdula ending the match with a drop ball.
Cagayan Valley overwhelmed IEM with their attacks, outscoring the Volley Masters 44-30 in points via spikes. IEM, meanwhile, displayed more consistent defense, notching 55 blocks to Cagayan’s 52.
The Rising Suns’ next opponent will be the Army Troopers on Thursday, April 30, while the Volley Masters will go against PLDT Home Ultera on Tuesday, May 12.
Cagayan (3) – Torres 13, Paglinawan 7, Zamora 7, Canlas 6, Espejo 4, Intal 4, Santos 4, Ordoñez 3, Gatdula 2, Pirante 2, Calderon 1, Ramos (L), Dizon (L)
IEM (0) – Dela Calzada 12, Jimenez 9, Timbal 6, Banang 3, Tamayo 3, Canlas 3, Raymundo 2, Beliran 2, Cabatingan 1, Almario (L)