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PLDT sweeps Gold Medal series over Cagayan; claims inaugural Spikers’ Turf Title



Riding the hot hands of their outside spikers, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters staved off a late Cagayan Rising Suns’ rally and clinched the first ever Spikers’ Turf championship in four sets 25-15, 25-11, 23-25, 30-28, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

It was PLDT’s strategic blocking that spelled the difference in the championship series. Matching their Game One effort of 19 blocks, PLDT showed that they had mastered Cagayan’s offense as the boys in orange stuffed the vaunted Peter Torres running attacks and Jesus Espejo open hits. PLDT breezed through the first two sets but then ran into some trouble as Cagayan adjusted their lineup and attacks in the following two sets.

Veering away from running attacks and open hits, Cagayan utilized their quickers more often and involved their hitters in more combination plays. The team in wine and gold also got a crucial boost form bench skipper, Michael Zamora who scored all of his nine points in the third and fourth set. Cagayan led wire-to-wire in the third set and were ahead comfortably in the fourth, 21-17, before their play fell apart. With Howard Mojica at the service line, PLDT managed to take the lead through a 5-0 run with Cagayan’s offense misfiring. PLDT reached match point first, 24-23, but relinquished a deuce when John Vic De Guzman delivered a long serve. It took PLDT five match points to finish the match but a clutch double-block on Berlin Paglinawan delivered them the title.

Named the conference’s best opposite hitter and Finals MVP, UST’s Mark Gil Alfafara topped all scorers with 23 points off 16 attacks, six blocks, and an ace. Reigning NCAA MVP, Howard Mojica paced the PLDT offense with 19 points off 13 attacks, three blocks, and three aces. Benilde’s John Vic De Guzman contributed 12 points while former Growling Tiger, Jayson Ramos pitched in 10 markers.

“Nagbunga ‘yung preparation namin for Cagayan. Muntik na ulit sila mabuhay in noong dulo pero nagawan naman ng paraan,” said PLDT head coach, Odjie Mamon.

Two-time UAAP MVP Marck Espejo was limited to only 14 points for Cagayan. Ditto for the decorated former NU Bulldog, Peter Torres who notched only seven points.

PLDT started their season off with a bit of turbulence, going off on a 2-2 start. Since their heartbreaking five-set loss to Champion Infinity Active Smashers, PLDT refused to surrender another match and ran through their final eight matches en route to the title.

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 23. Mojica 19, De Guzman 12, Ramos 10, Franco 8, Torres 4, Mangulabnan 2, Casillan 1, Malleon 1, Pecaña 0, Longavela (L)

Cagayan (1) – Espejo 14, Intal 10, Paglinawan 10, Zamora 9, Torres P. 7, gatdula 2, Santos 2, Pirtante 1, Torres A. 0, Canlas 0, Ramos (L), Dizon (L)

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PLDT sweeps Gold Medal series over Cagayan; claims inaugural Spikers’ Turf Title

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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