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Maroons deny NCBA outright semis berth

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Behind Alfred Valbeuna’s powerful 26-point performance, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons notched their only win of the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference Quarterfinals at the expense of the Top Four-aspiring National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-11 at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

The Maroons’ overall performance fluctuated throughout the match, limiting their errors and setting up their blocking in the sets they won, then suddenly struggling to keep their attacks in the sets they lost.

After alternating set wins, UP took early control of the fifth, building a 5-1 lead off tremendous blocking. NCBA then responded, rattling off seven consecutive points off powerful blocking off their own. UP slowly got back into the game, tying the set at 10, after a Evan Raymundo quick attack. From there, UP bombarded NVBA. Via back-to-back aces from Raymundo followed by an Alfred Valbeuna block, UP grabbed a 13-10 lead. After a timeout, Fuentes scored NCBA’s final point off a combination play. Moreoever, Wendel Miguel and Valbuena smashed kills on consecutive plays to end the match.

“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila na kalimutan nila ‘yung mga pagakakamali nila sa mga nakaraan na set tapos magfocus na lang sa paggawa nang tama sa huling set,” said UP Head Coach Melchor Santos when asked about his pre-fifth set speech. “Siyempre masaya ako na panalo. Malaking bagay ‘yun para sa morale ng mga bata pagdating sa mga susunod na liga na sasalihan namin,” he added.

UP’s rookie Opposite Hitter, Mark Millete contributed a season-high 13 points with five blocks, the banged-up Miguel finished with 12 points, while Raymundo pitched in 10 points with three aces.

“Proud ako kay Miguel [Wendel] kasi kakagaling niya lang sa sakit, tapos na-sprain pa ‘yung ankle noong Sabado, maganda pa rin ang nilaro niya. Talagang nagpakita ng tapang ‘yung bata,” said Santos about his third-year open hitter.

Returning from a concussion that kept him out of the Wildcats’ past three games, NCBA guest player Edwin Tolentino went for a team-high 24 points, while his fellow guest player and NU teammate Reyson Fuentes paced the NCBA offense with 16 points.

NCBA’s loss drops them to a 3-4 record and they now need to win on Saturday, September 5 against fellow 3-4 squad DLSU to determine the final member of the Top Four.

UP, on the other hand, finishes with a 2-5 slate just ahead of the FEU Tams and CSB. Meanwhile, CSB ends their season with a 1-6 slate, good for seventh place.

The Scores

UP (3) – Valbunea 26, Millete 13, Miguel 12, Raymundo 10, San Pascual 5, Acuna 2, San Pedro 0, Nasol (L)

NCBA (2) – Tolentino 24, Fuentes 16, Canals 11, Domingo 11, Oclima C. 2, Oclima R. 1, Valenzuela 1, Nidua 1, Ugoy 0, Escobido (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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