Powered by Howard Mojica’s game-high 24 points, the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals avoided multiple close calls and swept the National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats 25-22, 25-22, 25-23 in the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The squad from San Marcelino took some heavy blows from their less heralded opponents. In the opening set, the Wildcats fought back from being down eight to force a 17-all tie. Luckily for the defending NCAA champs, NCBA threw away multiple points from errors and they pulled away in the dying moments of the frame.
The second set saw EAC forge another decisive lead only to lose it due to their own miscues. With Mojica firing off his signature jump serves, EAC broke away from a 12-all tie and manned a commanding 17-12 advantage. The Generals nearly let their lead slip away when a stretch of three consecutive errors sliced their lead down to one 20-19. The Wildcats failed to capitalize on EAC’s futility and instead coughed up errors of their own that bolted the Generals ahead and gave their foes a 2-0 sets lead.
In the final set of the match, both teams dragged each other to the deep end of the frame with neither able to establish a sizable lead. NCBA caught a few favorable bounces and took a 20-17 lead thanks to conversions from Edwin Tolentino. EAC fought back and tied the set at 22 with Kerth Meliza scoring four points in the tying run. After an errant attack from Mojica put NCBA ahead, 24-23, Mojica made up for his mistake by carrying his team to the finish line with back-to-back kills.
“Sakit na talaga ng mga player ko yan,” replied EAC head coach, Rod Palmero when asked about his team’s tendency to relax when they’re ahead. “Marami pa ring kailangan ayusin, tulad ng blocking at mga atake kasi maliit na nga ‘yung team namin so may disadvantage agad kami against sa mga matatangkad na kalaban,” Palmero continued.
Reigning NCAA MVP, Mojica was the only player in double digits for the match as his 24 points came with three blocks and six aces. Edwin Tolentino fired off nine points for NCBA who got most of their pointa from EAC’s 40 errors.
The EAC Generals will face fellow 4-0 team, NU Bulldogs on August 10, Monday. Having lost two consecutive games, the NCBA Wildcats pin their comeback bid on the UE Warriors on August 12, Wednesday.
EAC (3) – Mojica 24, Melliza 7, Encina 6, Doguna 3, Arias 3, Pagtalunan 1, Barbuco 0, Cilocilo 0, Gerella 0, Mangaring (L)
NCBA (0) – Tolentino 9, Nidua 6, Calas 3, Valenzuela 3, Fuentes 2, Escobido (L), Vicente J. (L)