The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons dodged a late comeback attempt from the NCAA silver medalists, College of Saint Benilde Blazers. With the game looking like a wash early, the Maroons needed four sets, 25-11, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, to nail their second win in as many games in the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.
CSB had a rough go early in the match as their usually solid floor defense eluded them. The Maroons capitalized on their opponent’s futility by going to the hot hand of Alfred Valbuena and Evan Raymundo also limiting their errors. The Maroons easily won the first set and shrugged off a late comeback attempt from the Blazers in the second frame.
In the third frame, the Maroons once again found themselves comfortably ahead, 13-9, before the boys from Taft hijacked control of the set. With Renald Ugalde at the service area, CSB rattled off 12 consecutive points through the marvelous attacking of Berwin Coming and Johnvic De Guzman. Ahead by eight, 21-13, the Maroon sat Valbuena and basically surrendered the set and early finish to the match.
Both teams figured in a hotly contested fourth set with the Blazers taking control for much of the frame. UP had an early lead, 3-0, but suffered severely from numerous unforced errors, opening the door for CSB to take a commanding 21-17 lead late. However, Wendel Miguel, who rode the bench for most of the fourth set, saved the Maroons by powering a rally through his devastating jump serves. The Maroons also successfully stifled the back row attacks of John Vic De Guzman and scored eight of the match’s last nine points.
Veteran middle blocker, Evan Raymundo led the UP cause with 20 points which includes a monstrous seven blocks. Open hitter Alfred Valbuena provided 19 markers while while Wendel Miguel and John Millete combined for 14 markers.
National team standout, Johnvic De Guzman was the only Blazer who hit double-digits in scoring with points but had multiple late errors and reception miscues in the final set.
The Maroons have a tough task ahead of them in their Katipunan neighbors and fellow undefeated squad, Ateneo Blue Eagles on Monday, July 27. The 1-1 CSB Blazers look to get back on track against the winless Arellano Chiefs on Thursday, July 29.
UP (3) – Raymundo 20, Valbuena 19, Miguel 7, Millete 7, San Pascual 6, Acuna 3, Madrigalejos 1, Baldelovar 0 , Consuelo 0, Luna (L), Nasol (L)
CSB (1) – De Guzman 21, Jordan 7, Coming 7, Arda 6, Etrone 5, Alingasa 4, Basilan 2, Ugalde 2, Relata 1, Deximo 0, Chua (L)