Needing to win its remaining matches to secure a playoff spot, the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals snatched its second straight victory in three sets over the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 27-25, 25-15, 25-22, at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Alfred Pagulong soared with 18 points to lead Mapua, with 17 attacks and a service ace, including the last three points that sealed his team’s fifth win.
The Knights, led by outsider hitter Bobby Gatdula, threatened to take the first frame. Mapua also succumbed to reception problems at the start.
Nonetheless, when the yellow-shirts turned to their defense, they never looked back and stole the first set.
The Cardinals continued their momentum and dominated the second frame, handing Letran a dose of its own medicine with tenacious net defense and middle plays.
Mapua head coach Mario Mia commented, “Yung sa block kasi namin, ang purpose is marebound yung bola. Sabi ko, importante maharangan natin yung bola para bumagal yung first ball. Kung makapuntos tayo sa block, bonus na lang yun.”
With regards to their use of central attackers, the mentor believes that they just used their strength in this game.
“Sabi ko nga, after nung first set, ‘ano yung pinakanumber one na kulang natin? Wala tayong quick.’
“Alam naman nila yung problema, so ginawan naman nila,” he said.
Middle hitters Anjo Pertierra and Sam Navera combined for 16 markers including four of Mapua’s five blocks to dominate zone three.
Dion Canlas steadied the defense of the Cardinals once more with 14 digs and 19 excellent receptions.
Bobby Gatdula paced the Knights with 16 markers in 14 attacks and one each of block and service ace.
The Cardinals (4-3) will continue its bid for a playoff spot when they facd the winless EAC Generals (0-7) on Friday, January 13. On the other hand, the Knights (1-6) will try to arrest its slump against the JRU Heavy Bombers (1-6) on Wednesday, January 18.
MIT (3) – Pagulong 18, Navera 9, Damian 8, Pertierra 7, Egan 4, Andaya 1, Evangelista 0, Bondoc 0, Canlas L.
CSJL (0) – Gatdula 16, Cistina 11, Reyes 7, Alilio 4, Orsini 3, Sarmiento 2, Almoguerra 1, Dichioso 0, Dizon 0, Sison 0, Ramos 0, Timbreza L.