In a battle of coach Rod Palmero’s teams, the University of the Philippines Maroons prevailed over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals 23-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-17 in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference opening day at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The match started with neither team able to take a lead larger than two. In the closing moments of the first set, EAC pulled big plays from Israel Encina and Kerth Melliza to break away from a 23-all tie and take the early lead. UP was again in the same predicament in the second set but were able to save set point and force a deuce at 24-all. Melliza and UP open hitter Wendel Miguel traded big hits down the stretch until a pair of attack errors doomed the Generals and gave the frame to UP.
“Pareho lang kasi yan sila ng pattern saka ng rotation. Lumabas lang talaga sa dulp kung sino ang mas gustong manalo,” said UP assistant coach Obet Santos who manner UP’s sidelines for Palmero who opted not to sit in either bench.
The rest of the match swung towards UP’s favor as EAC’s defense and reception faltered the rest of the way. The Maroons built a 21-14 lead in the third set then rushed to an 18-9 lead fourth set even after Miguel went down with a right shoulder injury early in the fourth set.
Alfred Valbuena topped a balanced UP scoresheet with 16 points, Miguel tallied 14, Mark Millete added 12, and Gian San Pascual contributed 10.
Converted to an open spiker after playing middle for most of his collegiate career, Encina led all scorer with 24 points while Melliza added 17.
UP (1-0) takes on the National College for Business and Arts Wildcats (0-0) on August 8 at the PhilSports Arena. EAC (0-1) faces the UAAP champions Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles (0-0) August 6 also at the PhilSports Arena.
UP (3) – Valbuena 16, Miguel 14, Millete 12, San Pascual 10, Castillo 7, Consuelo 5, Chuacuco 0, Nasol 0, Luna (L)
EAC (1) – Encina 24, Melliza 17, Cilocilo 6, Rasing 5, Item 5, Mina 4, Lim 1, Gorospe 0, Castellano 0, Mangaring (L)