With the return of their veteran trio Patrick Balse, Kerby Castillo, and Romnick Rico after a decision of Coach Odjie Mamon to bench the three last game, the University of Santo Tomas romped up a huge win to improve their chances of landing in the top two spots with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 victory over UE held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Both teams jumped out and made it a close encounter in the start of the game. UST slightly edged UE due to less errors committed late as they were able to hang on and escape the set up by four.
Very different from their loss against Adamson last week, the rebuilt Golden Spikers squad was back in full force as they were poised to romp up the scoring against the skidding Warriors.
Mark Alafafara served to be the closer in the first two sets as he made the necessary spikes despite UE threatening to rally in the late moments. UST cruised towards a fast first set win and escaped the second set with a five point lead.
In the third set, net defense was heavily relied on by the Golden Spikers as four of their total ten blocks were made late in the frame. Despite losing their comfortable lead in the last set, the blocking aided UST to deny the chances of UE to make a comeback.
A total domination from the spiking department was displayed as Alfafara and captain Romnick Rico led the charge with 25 of the 44 spikes of UST. Castillo also played well as he was back in serving up his teammates with his 24 excellent sets.
Alfafara topscored UST with 18 while Rico added 13. Ed Campusano led the struggling UE squad with 16 markers including two blocks.
Back in their first round game, it was a quick sweep for UST as they thrashed UE for the Golden Spikers’ first win of the season. Alfafara led all scorers that game with 21 points.
The win gives UST an 8-3 record in the standings while UE is still struggling as they are still winless after 11 games.
UST seeks to further strengthen their chances of having a twice-to-beat advantage during the final four games as they battle La Salle on Valentine’s Day, 10am at the Filoil Arena. On the other hand, UE takes on another heavyweight team, Adamson on Feb. 11, 8am at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UST Alfafara 18, Rico 13, Guzman 8, Sarabia 8, Balse 5, Bautista 3, Castillo 0, Tajanlangit 0, Pangan(L) 0,
UEA Campusano 16, Adviento 7, Magdaong 6, Lelic 3, Mandani 3, ALba 1, Molina 1, Pron 0, Caluya 0, Almario(L) 0,