The University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas stomped their class in a classic match, out-muscling the Arellano University Chiefs, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-23, Thursday evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
In a match where precision was at the premium, errors dictated how the first two sets took shape.
“You know I always told my players, nothing is impossible. Nangyari sa amin yan during our championship with EAC. ‘Pag hindi ka nag-give up, ibibgay sa inyo ni Lord. Once dumikit, ibig sabihin atin yan. Walang gi-give up talaga,” said multi-time champion head coach Sammy Acaylar.
The Chiefs had to overhaul an early 3-6 deficit to lead at 14-9 in the first set. Nonetheless, the Altas could not complete the comeback after a deadlock at 23. Two straight strong hits from Christian Dela Paz and Kevin Liberato clinched the frame for Arellano.
In that same stalemate at 23, Perpetual’s graduating setter Warren Catipay suffered a right ankle sprain and had to be substituted by Jeric Atentar.
Arellano’s reception was severely tested in the second set, and that is how the set ended in the favor of Perpetual. It was another tit-for-tat affair, but late in the succeeding set, two miscommunication on passing doomed them to an equalizer. Middle hitter Ronniel Rosales fired two vicious serves, the second of which tied the match at a set apiece.
Taking the momentum from the previous frame, the maroon-shirts took a commanding 16-8 lead before the Chiefs made a run to cut it to three at 14-17.
Nonetheless, with a huge adjustment in Catipay’s absence, the Altas’ 4-2 formation surprisingly worked, with Mark Bation and captain Rey Taneo, Jr. They eventually ended it at 25-19.
However, the Chiefs regained their aggressiveness in the must-win fourth set. Edmark Meneses made their offense clicked, with wingers Demy Lapuz and Christian Dela Paz hitting from their opposite sides.
The Legarda-based squad led by as much as seven, before the Altas made a huge run.
“Wala akong sinabi ko sa kanila. Sabi ko they have to play, they have to trust everybody. Nagtitiwala ako sa lahat ng players ko. Bawat isa sa kanila, nagbibigay ng puntos yan, and bawat isa diyan ay lucky charm,” added Acaylar.
Perpetual snagged the lead at 22-21, leaning on their net defense to wrested the lead. From there, there was no turning back. One excellent pass from graduating libero Jack Kalingking to his batchmate Taneo was then finished off by John Patrick Ramos, sealing the Altas’ 11th men’s title.
Taneo was adjudged the Finals Most Valuable Player. He tallied 11 markers and 22 excellent sets in this contest.
Reigning NCAA MVP Almodiel pushed Perpetual with 19 points.
“Actually from the start, hindi ko talaga sila inexpect. Pumasok lang ng top four… basta sinabi ko lang sa kanila, lagi silang naiinsulto kasi lagi kong pinagagalitan na hindi ito pang-champion na team. Nung nag-start kami ng elimination, nakita ko ang potential nila. Lahat ng gusto ko nasusunod,” expressed Acaylar.
Dela Paz towed Arellano with 16 markers.