The Arellano University needed just one win to clinch their first-ever title, but the solid volleyball program of the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA had something to say.
The Altas brought down the hammer on the Chiefs to the tune of a 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-16 victory to extend the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Finals to a Game 3, Monday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Graduating setter Warren Catipay registered a whopping 40 excellent sets to orchestrate the Altas offense, leading to five spikers scoring in double-digit, paced by outside hitter Ridzuan Muhali with 15 points.
“Before ako matulog, nilalagay ko lang sa isip ko na ayaw ko umuwi ng talunan,” said Catipay, who is one of the team’s graduating seniors, together with Rey Taneo. “Lahat ng mga alumni namin sinasabi na kaming mga seniors, mga last playing years, kami magdadala sa team namin para mag-champion kami. Every time talaga, nagpe-pray lang ako kay Lord kasi siya naman nagbigay ng talent namin.”
The first set saw the white-shirts zoom into a commanding 20-11 lead, only to surrender to a spirited comeback from the Chiefs, and were forced to a deadlock at 24. Nonetheless, Rey Taneo, Jr. shut the door on the opposition with a strong kill.
Perpetual used this momentum to take the second set despite another a huge rally from the Legarda-based squad. Rookies Ridzuan Muhali and Joebert Almodiel steered the former to the 2-0 advantage.
Needing a huge boost to rescue the match, the Chiefs once more pushed the Altas to limit in the following set. Down 12-21, setter Edmark Meneses slowly pulled his team to the set point and eventually get one set back.
For Perpetual head coach Sammy Acaylar, he needed to step in to remove the complacency from his team.
“Sometimes kasi kahit kino-control mo talaga ‘yung players natin, sa psychological, andun yung too much complacency nila. That is why I told them always sa training at sa mga tune-up games, ‘yun talaga ang problema na kapag lamang na, nagre-relax,” the national team head coach shared. “So somebody inside the court should control that negativity. So sabi ko nga, nagalit ako ng kaunti pero wala akong magawa, ganoon sila eh. Ayusin ko na lang ‘yan.”
In the fourth set, however, there was no turning back for Perpetual, and they brought down the championship dreams of their Game 1 tormentors with a surprise attack from Jeric Atentar.
With Catipay using his various options and making the offense click, the Altas pushed into the pedal and ended the match to extend the series to another day.
That winner-take-all battle is scheduled to happen on Thursday, February 22.
UPHSD 3 – Muhali 15, Rosales 13, Almodiel 13, Taneo Jr. 11, Ramos 10, Solamilo 2, Catipay 1, Atentar 1, Kalingking L.
AU 1 – Cabillan 12, Liberato K 11, Segovia 10, Dela Paz 7, Liberato J 6, Lapuz 2, Meneses 1, Arellano T 1, Arellano K 0, Blanco L, Esguerra L.