The NCAA Men’s Volleyball Tournament received a major shake up with the defending champs, Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals falling to the upstart Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates and Final Four contenders, Arellano University Chiefs negotiating momentary breathing room after crushing the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals earlier today at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
After dropping their first three matches of the season, the LPU Pirates rose to their third straight victory, upsetting the previously undefeated EAC Generals in five sets 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 18-25, 16-14.
EAC struggled to adjust to the humid venue, amassing errors that overshadowed their still stable offensive assault. Lyceum took full advantage, taking a 2-1 sets lead before the Generals forced a deciding set in a lopsided fourth frame. The Generals, however, could not limit their mistakes, coughing up crucial attack faults in the last two points of a close final set. EAC tallied a season-high 46 errors to LPU’s 26.
Aram Abrencillo towed the Pirates’ offense with a team-high 17 points off 13 attacks, three blocks, and an ace. Joeward Presnede followed closely with 15 points which included 13 attacks and two aces.
EAC’s erroneous play masked their usual explosive offense. Reigning MVP, Howard Mojica drove in 29 points with 28 attacks. His fellow open hitter Kerth Melliza amassed 16 markers, middle blocker Isarael Encina pitched in 15 points, while opposite hitter Hariel Doguna contributed 13 markers.
In the day’s final match, the AU Chiefs kept their Final Four hopes alive, thwarting the MIT Cardinals in a tight three-set affair 25-19, 25-20, 25-21.
The Cardinals managed to keep pace with the rowdy Chiefs consistently in the early moments of each set but the Intramuros-based squad also consistently collapsed in the latter part of every frame. Mapua struggled to keep their serves in play giving their Legarda-based foes easy points in the clutch.
Arellano received clutch efforts from open hitter Lawrence Del Espirito, who topped the match with 14 points all off attacks, and Kenneth Aliyacyac, who claimed 12 markers off nine attacks, two blocks, and an ace.
Mapua team captain Philip Michael Bagalay anchored his team’s offense, scoring 12 points off 10 attacks and two blocks. Middle hitter, Anjo Pertierra followed with eight points off five kills and three blocks.
EAC’s loss drops them to second place with a 5-1 record while Lyceum evens their slate at 3-3 for sixth place. Arellano keeps a slim lead over San Beda for the final postseason spot with a 4-2 record while Mapua dropped their fifth straight match after winning their opening day game.
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