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NCBA sparks late rally, upsets red-hot La Salle in Spikers’ Turf

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After stuggling to minimize their errors early, the National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats thwarted the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Spikers in five sets 25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9 in the Top Eight phase of the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

The boys from Taft made the most out of NCBA’s futility with their serves. The Green Spikers held five point leads in crucial moments of the first and second set only to be whittled down by late NCBA rallies. Open hitter, Arjay Onia saved La Salle in the opening set’s deuce while NCBA’s errors and attacks from Raymark Woo nailed the Wildcats in the second frame.

NCBA, however, turned their ship around and efficiently dissected the slumping La Salle defense for the rest of the match. Guest player, Reyson Fuentes and his fellow middle blocker Daryl Valenzuela buoyed NCBA in the third set with their quick attacks and blocks while the Wildcats’ wing spikers carried NCBA to a 23-19 lead in the fourth frame. DLSU staged a comeback with Mike Frey at the service area, bringing them to within two points, 23-21. But, Paul John Domingo and Jasan Canlas dug NCBA out with late attacks and into a fifth set.

The Wildcats sealed their fourth win of the tournament ealry in the payoff period; blazing to a 6-0 lead and never looking back. Opposite hitter, Domingo led all scorers with 19 points while guest player Eden Canlas contributed 16 markers. Canlas, who played for Cagayan in the previous Spikers’ Turf Conference, replaced Edwin Tolentino in NCBA’s lineup. Tolentino suffered concussion-like symptoms in their previous match and could not secure a medical clearance before today’s match. Fuentes went for a season-high 15 points which includes 10 attacks and five blocks while Jason Canlas had 15 points of his own.

“Hindi lang sinunod ng mga players ko ‘yung gameplan namin for the match [kaya natalo sa unang dalawang set]. Kaya ang sabi ko sa kanila nung sumunod na set, ‘yung gusto ko naman ‘yung sundin nila. Nakinig naman, na-minimize namin ‘yung service errors kaya nanalo,” said NCBA head coach Ernesto Balubar whose team amassed 43 errors. NCBA improves to a 2-2 slate in the round.

The Green Spikers went into the match with a four-game winning streak stemming from the first round of the tournament. Team captain, Raymark Woo produced 18 points in the losing effort while Arjay Onia finished with 15 points off 12 attacks, two aces and two blocks. Middle blocker, Ralph Calasin dropped a season-high 13 points for La Salle who now sport a 2-2 carry over record.

The Wildcats have a tough task ahead of as they have the defending UAAP champs, Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles on Monday, August 24. Ateneo is undefeated in their seven matches so far.

La Salle, on the other hand, has a rough week ahead with matches on Monday and Wednesday. To stay in the hunt for a Final Four spot, La Salle will need to earn wins against the FEU Tamaraws on August 24 then against the undefeated NU Bulldogs on August 26.

The Scores

NCBA (3) – Domingo 19, Canlas E. 16, Canlas J. 15, Fuentes 15, Valenzuela 7, Oclima C. 3, Oclima R. 2, Nidua 2, Vicente 1, Ugoy 0, Escobido (L)

DLSU (2) – Woo 18, Onia 15, Calasin 13, Del Pilar 9, Dumago 4, Frey 3, Asia 1 J., Dimayuga 0, Jose 0, Asia R. (L), Movido (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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