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PLDT overpowers Army in four sets

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The PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters overwhelmed another fellow title contender as their contingent of UST personalities thumped the suddenly struggling Army Troopers in four sets, 25-9, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22 in the inaugural season of the Spiker’s Turf at the San Juan Arena.

PLDT once again leaned on their offense and immense length, out-attacking Army 53-45 and delivering more block kills, 12-5. Decorated Thomasian Mark Alfafara, led PLDT’s assault with 21 points but PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon, still wanted Alfafara to show some more fighting spirit. “‘Yung service reception, digging, blocking, and attacking are all there,” Coach Odjie said. “Medyo nakulangan lang ako sa aggresiveness niya sa serving. Mas marami pa sana siyang na-produce.”

PLDT was dominant right from the first point as the Troopers seemed unprepared for PLDT’s blitz. Army’s passing was atrocious, leaving their attackers little to work with, hence giving PLDT an easy set win. Army made the necessary adjustments in the following set but Mark Alafafara and fellow Thomasians, JP Torres and Howard Pecaña, worked splendidly off the momentum they built in the previous set as the trio combined for 17 of PLDT’s second set points.

Army showed their peak in the third set as their improved overall play allowed them to steal a convincing set win. PLDT got some wear out of Adamson product, Ron Jay Galang, in the third set as he scored all of his five points in the set. It was Army’s Greg Dolor who spelled the difference, notching eight of 15 points in the set, two coming off of blocks and six via attacks. Army’s attempt at extending the set into a fifth came to no avail as Alfafara and the rest of PLDT worked hard to not let Army steal any break points.

Army’s top scorer, PJ Rojas was stifled throughout the match as he was held to subpar nine-point performance. Team captain, John Depamaylo pitched in 12 points in Army’s third loss in five matches.

PLDT will try to get its fourth win when it goes against Champion on April 26. Army faces a tough challenge on getting their act back together as it encounters the undefeated Cagayan on the same day.

Coach Mamon, shared the same sentiment with other coaches, with regards to the challenges of facing the veteran Champion Infinity squad. “Matagal na sila magkakasama. Magkakakilala na talaga sila. Any match with them will be tough,” quipped Coach Mamon.

The Scores:

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 21, Torres 12, Pecaña 12, Ramos 7, Franco 5, Galang 5. De Guzman 4, Casillan 2, Malleon 2, Mangulabnan 0, Longavela (L)

Army (1) – Dolor 15, Depamaylo 12, Labide 9, Rojas 9, Torres 5, Baloaloa 1, Refugia 1, Abdulmajid 0, Reyes 0, Uy (L), Bayking (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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