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PLDT runs over Cignal en route to Finals

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Shrugging off their habitual slow start, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters picked up steam late to blow by the Cignal HD Spikers in four sets 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-11; barging into the Finals of the Spikers’ Turf Men’s Volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

The Ultra Fast Hitters needed a full set to get their legs under them, firing off uncharacteristically weak attacks which Cignal easily countered. But Cignal wouldn’t get another crack at a late lead as PLDT’s serving and blocking picked up the pace and blasted the HD Spikers out of the water. To add fuel to PLDT’s fire, Cignal’s open hitter, Edmar Bonono, who was having a tremendous match, injured his left ankle midway through the second set.

PLDT’s strong performance from the service line coupled with Bonono’s injury bogged down the Cignal offense and made it easier for PLDT’s blockers to read Cignal attacks. The Ultra Fast Hitters finished the match with a 15-7 block kills advantage and a 49-38 spikes gap.

UAAP Season 75 MVP, Mark Alfafara led all Ultra Fast Hitters with 17 points while NCAA MVP, Howard Mojica paced the PLDT offense with 14 markers. Benilde’s John Vic De Guzman was pivotal as he started the second set and scored 12 points off 11 attacks in his three sets of action.

“Slow start pa din kami pero buti nakapag-execute kami after the first set. Nakapaghanda talga kami ng maigi para sa kanila [Cignal] over the past few days,” said PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon.

PLDT’s win vaulted them into the Finals against fellow 2-0 Cagayan Valley Rising Suns with Game One of the best-of-three coming on Sunday. However, PLDT and Cignal will still go at it in their final elimination match on Thursday. Likewise, Cignal and Air Force will face off in the Bronze medal match with Game One of the best-of-three also on Sunday. They also have an elimination match left on Thursday.

When asked about their no-bearing match on Thursday, Coach Mamon emphasized the importance of momentum in volleyball. “Siyempre gusto pa rin naman manalo ng convincing. It’s better if we win as much as we can. Iba kasi ‘yung feeling ng galing sa panalo.”

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 17, Mojica 14, De Guzman 12, Ramos 9, Torres 6, Franco 5, Mangulabnan 2 , Pecana 1, Casillan 1, Malleon 0, Longavela (L)

Cignal (1) – Ramos 9, Bonono 8, Capate 8, Fuentes 7, Ramos 6, Dela Cruz 3, Lansangan 2, Taneo 2, Christensen 2, Bagalay 1, Diezmo 0, Montero (L), Luces (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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