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PLDT edges Cagayan; goes undefeated in second round

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Having clinched their seat in the Finals last Tuesday, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters ended their Spikers’ Turf Men’s Volleyball Tournament second round stint with an impressive four-set triumph over fellow finalists, Cagayan Valley Rising Suns 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-23 at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

Using the full extent of its deep talent pool, PLDT has had recent success with lineups involving NCAA standouts: open hitter Howard Mojica, and opposite spiker John Vic De Guzman. In this match, Mojica and De Guzman buoyed the PLDT offense with Mojica topping all Ultra Fast Hitters with 18 points with De Guzman following close by with 14 points.

According to PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon, his team’s depth at all positions will be key in their success moving forward. “’Yung mga ginamit kong mga tao kanina ‘yun na rin ‘yun [gagamitin sa Finals]. Ang maganda kasi team ko marami talga kaming options. I can use either setter, sa Libero ‘din, tapos de kalidad talaga ‘yung mga outside hitters ko.”

Two-time UAAP MVP, Marck Espejo spearheaded the Cagayan offense with 19 points while Cagayan’s starting middle blockers, Rex Intal and Peter Torres each notched 11 markers.

After going 5-2 in the first round of eliminations, PLDT swept through their three elimination matches. Cagayan went 6-1 in the initial round of eliminations, owing their only loss to the Army Troopers. Cagayan and PLDT are 1-1 in their season matchup with the Rising Suns winning their first round matchup in five sets.

Game One of the best-of-three Finals will be at the FilOil Flying-V Arena on Sunday, 3 p.m. The Bronze Medal Series match between Cignal and Air Force kicks off on the same day at 9 a.m. Sandwiched between those matches is the final game of the Shakey’s V-League at 12;45 p.m.

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Mojica 18, De Guzman 14, Alfafara 11, Ramos 9, Pecaña 3, Ramos 3, Franco 3, Casillan 2, Mangulabnan 0, Mangaring (L), Longavela (L)

Cagayan (1) – Espejo 19, Intal 11, Torres 11, Paglonawan 8, Pirante 5, Santos 3, Gatdula 2, Canlas 1, Ordoñez 1, Zamora 0, Calderon 0, Ramos (L)

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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