In previous years, the Altas from the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA has always returned from the holiday break quite sluggish. Nonetheless, they have always came out with a win.
This year, the defending champions were looking sharp and overpowered the Mapua University Cardinals in a little over an hour, 25-15, 25-12, 25-19, and picked up their sixth straight win of the season, Monday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Center.
It was something long-time head coach Sammy Acaylar welcomed as the program they had during the break paid off.
“Well, before Christmas we worked on their strength and conditioning. Then after Christmas, we went to the basic foundations of volleyball,” the concurrent school athletic director shared. “We also had tune up games with UAAP teams nung break. Siyempre, kailangan tuloy lang, huwag naming iisipin na magaling na kami.”
Despite a strong showing offensively, with a huge 42-14 disparity on attacks, and defensively, denying seven of the Cardinals’ hits and taking in 37 digs, the opponent also benefited from their 27 errors.
At the end of the match, reigning Most Valuable Player Joebert Almodiel produced 15 points on 14 attacks to go with seven excellent receptions. Rookie setter EJ Casana finished with 26 excellent sets.
This is what concerned the seasoned mentor the most. “The consistency,” Acaylar said when asked on what he expects from the Altas moving forward. “Hindi pa sila ‘yung matatawag na seasoned player. Gusto ‘yung maging smart ba sila sa laro.”
Such consistency is what their next opponents in the Arellano University Chiefs also require as they almost squandered a 2-0 lead over the young and relentless Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals in the day’s morning game.
With their net defense on point, the Legarda-based squad cruised to 25-13 and 25-18 wins in the first two sets, as the Generals also had problems with their passing, especially with main setter Louie Julao. Arellano spikers, led by Christian dela Paz had a field day in the said frames.
A change of starting setter in the second set reaped its dividends in the next two sets as Chester Bautista complemented well libero Earl Magadan’s reception, finally giving its hitters a chance at kills.
Nonetheless, it was the experience of the Chiefs that sealed the win in the end, capitalizing on the errors of the Generals late in the decider to end it at 16-14.
Outside hitter gunned it out for the Chiefs as Dela Paz finished with 16 points and Kim Tan added 14 markers.
Perpetual (6-0) and Arellano (6-1) will dispute one of the semifinals slots on Thursday, January 10 at 3:30 pm, even as EAC (5-3) will attempt to snag a possible playoff berth against Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates at 10:00am on the following day.
Mapua (2-5) will then close their season against also-ran Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights (1-6) in Thursday’s morning game at 10:00 am.
AU 3 – Dela Paz 16, Tan 14, Liberato 13, Segovia 9, Cabillan 6, Meneses 2, Lapuz 2, Encila 2, Villados 0, Manalansan 0, Arellano L, Esguerra L.
EAC 2 – Mina 23, Ramilo 22, Pitogo 13,Daduya 9, Castillo 6, Bautista 0, Julao 0, Diones 0, Melad 0, Belga 0, Magadan L.
UPHSD 3 – Almodiel 15, Rosales 11, Ramirez 11, Ramos 9, Casana 5,Bation 3, Solamillo 2, Sereno 1, Abdulla 0, Enarciso 0, Muhali 0, Baggayan 0, Balmores L, Atentar L.
MU 0 – Egan 6, Hizon 3, Kiamco 3, Pagulong 2, Pulga 2, Andaya 2, Tabios 1, Navas 0, Vargas 0, Basas 0, Abellada L, Sarcol L.