Last year’s semifinalists take to the court on the penultimate day of the NCAA men’s eliminations, with Final Four implications for the current season at stake. In the end, reigning champions Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals sent the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to their first defeat, while the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Blazers overpowered Arellano University Chiefs in straight sets, Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan City.
Showing the might that brought them the Season 90 title, the Generals sent the Altas back to earth with a straight-sets quashing, 25-20 25-22 25-17. EAC took Perpetual out of their comfort zone early on as the Generals forced the otherwise solid service and attack reception of the Altas into disarray. The EAC spikers had walloped the opposing defense with 39 attacks and 11 service aces by the end of the match.
The defending champions built a huge nine-point lead, 21-12, in the last set and never looked back. Errors from the Generals and sporadic hits from the Altas kept the Las Piñas-based team in the game. However, the lead was too much to overcome and the Altas suffered their first loss of the season.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Howard Mojica, as expected, led the EAC troop with 20 points, 5 of them coming from the service line. Fellow outside hitter, Kerth Melliza, followed it up with 12 markers. No Altas scored in double figures, as skipper Bonjomar Castel registered 5 points to lead four other players with 4 markers each.
EAC (3) – Mojica 20, Melliza 12, Doguna 8, Encina 7, Rasing 4, Bihag 1, Ambanta 1, Mendoza 0, Gorospe (L)
UPHSD (0) – Castel 5, Rey Taneo Jr. 4, Abcede 4, Ytorzaita 4, Ramos 4, Doliente 3, Rel. Taneo 2, Rosales 2, Sala-an 2, Atentar 0, Kasim 0, Kalingking (L), Baroy (L)
In the day’s final game, John Vic De Guzman and company bounced back from their loss against EAC with a tight straight-set victory over the Chiefs, 25-21 25-19 25-18. The Blazers slowly built sizable margins at the start of each frame and never gave Arellano the chance to seize control.
National team stalwart De Guzman bounced back from his off game in the previous defeat, after unleashing 18 attacks in the match, which is half of the 36 spikes registered by the Taft-based squad. Outside hitter Racky Etrone was the other Blazer in double figures with 11 markers. CSB turned to their net defense to stop the Chiefs, where they denied 8 kills from the latter. Benrasid Latip paced the Chiefs with 8 attacks, while Kenneth Aliyacyac produced 7 points.
CSB (3) – De Guzman 18, Etrone 11, Orian 7, Bacani 6, Jordan 4, Garcia 2, Dy (L) 1, Deximo 0, Bautista 0, Magsino 0, Amparo (L)
AU (0) – Latip 8, Aliyacyac 7, Liberato 6, Segovia 6, Del Espirito 4, Cabillan 2, Digal 1, Santo 1, Sarino 0, K. Arellano 0, Dela Cruz (L)
With the win, the defending champions EAC clinched one of the twice-to-beat incentives in the Final Four. A victory for the Altas on Sunday against Letran will grant them the other semis bonus. Arellano, who ended with a 5-4 win-loss record, will take on San Beda College Red Spikers for the playoff for the last semifinals slot.
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