By: Rom Anzures
Two-time defending champion University of Perpetual Help System DALTA survived an early scare from San Beda University to secure its sixth straight win in the NCAA Season 98 Men’s Volleyball Tournament, taking a 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-16 victory at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila on Friday.
The Red Spikers won the first set and even tied the game at 22-all in the second after a combination play from Jerome Lopez to Ralph Cabalsa, which went through the struggling defense of the Altas. However, Jefferson Marapoc and team captain Louie Ramirez refused to lose two straight sets, scoring three points that came from a kill, a drop ball, and a block, allowing them to tie the game at one set apiece.
The Altas, who have won 28 straight games dating back to the Finals of Season 93, used their huge second-set win and went on to sweep sets three and four with improved floor defense and an outstanding showing from the duo of Ramirez and Marapoc.
Altas head coach Sammy Acaylar reiterated the importance of not underestimating their opponents, even with the win streak that his squad is currently enjoying, for it will be their key in trying to keep the crown in Las Piñas.
“I do not think about that (undefeated record). We just play and execute our skills. Dinaan namin ‘yan sa training talaga. But it’s great for us, and pag Perpetual Men’s Volleyball, strong talaga. But then I told them, they have to respect their opponents kahit sinong kalaban kasi sometimes nagbabago ang tema eh,” he said.
Ramirez poured in 23 huge points and seven excellent receptions in the Altas’ sixth win in as many outings, followed by Marapoc’s 16 points on 13 attacks. Michael Medalla contributed nine points while Joshua Zareno scored five.
On the other hand, Cabalsa led the now 3-3 San Beda with 18 points, two coming from blocks, and one service ace. Ken Umali had 16 markers while Lorenz Calayag scored 11.
In the afternoon game, Colegio de San Juan de Letran kept its final four hopes alive after defeating College of St. Benilde, 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-15.
The Knights matched the Blazers in attack points during the opening set, 13-13, but they committed eight errors and only had one block, allowing CSB to take the first.
Letran took the next three sets led by Angel Canzana, who scored 13 points, nine excellent digs, and four receptions for the Knights who are coming from a heartbreaking loss against JRU.
The Blazers shot themselves in the foot by committing 20 errors in the final three sets, seven of which came from the service area, and this allowed Letran to get its third win in six games.
Vince Himzon delivered 18 points on 14 attacks and four blocks, while Lou Ambrocio and team captain Michael Doria scored 12 and 11, respectively. Andre Tongio only scored four points but was able to contribute 23 excellent sets.
CSB, who fell to 2-5, was led by Georgie Gauani with 15 attacks and two blocks. James Laguit scored 11, while Leonard Jaboli followed closely with nine.