Perpetual-Kinto Tyres dominated Chef on a Diet-FEU with a commanding performance, securing a 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 victory as the Altas advanced to the semifinal round of the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila on Sunday.
The Altas maintained the momentum from their intense five-set escape against the DLSU-Dasmariñas side in the close of the pool elimination play last Wednesday. They controlled the match from the start, stifling the Tamaraws with a dominant offensive and capitalizing on their opponents’ mishits and miscues.
With Louie Ramirez leading the charge, Perpetual continued its assault in the second frame, establishing leads of 9-4 and 11-6 before pulling away at 17-9. Despite the Tamaraws’ attempts to regroup, the Altas had responses for every FEU charge, claiming victory in a swift one-hour and 33-minute match.
Perpetual secured the first slot in the Final Four, a round-robin phase that will feature the Japanese guest team Maruichi Hyogo.
“We kind of expected this win,” said Ramirez, who finished with 22 points, including 18 on attacks, two blocks and two aces. “Pero pagbubutihin pa namin (sa semis), sa offense, floor defense and service.”
The knockout quarterfinals were still ongoing at presstime, featuring matchups between Cignal and La Salle, Cabuyao and Letran, and National U and Navy.
Perpetual coach Sammy Acaylar expressed surprise at the team’s success, emphasizing the strength of the competition.
“Sobrang saya kasi di naman naming ini-expect ‘to, kasi lahat ng teams dito ay malalakas. Siguro binigay lang sa amin ito ni God,” said Acaylar, who also highlighted the significance of the tournament as exposure for the team, aiding in their preparation for the NCAA and fostering his players’ emotional and psychological development.
Jefferson Marapoc and Micheal Medalla supported Ramirez with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the Altas finished with 43 attack points against the Tamaraws’ 34, along with three aces.
Perpetual earned 19 points from FEU’s unforced errors while yielding 13 points of its own.
Jelord Talisayan scored eight points, while Zhydryx Saavedra, Martin Bugaoan, Andrei Delicana, and Charles Absin each contributed seven points for the Tamaraws, who had an impressive elims campaign with a sweep of Pool D.
In contrast, Perpetual, despite needing to scrape past DLSU-Dasmariñas to secure the second quarters spot in Pool A, came into the knockout match armed with determination, seizing command with an aggressive offense and solid floor defense, preventing any chance of an FEU comeback.
The Tamaraws briefly led 2-0 in the opening frame, but the Altas quickly turned the tide, scoring nine of the next 13 points and wresting a three-point lead. They dominated the second set, leading 9-4 and 11-6, and cruising to an eight-point win.
They took the first four points in the third, extended it to 7-1, and sat on a 19-11 cushion. Although the Tamaraws fought back to pull within 20-23, Ramirez secured his 18th spike, and the two teams traded service miscues, allowing the Altas an unhampered entry to the semis.
The loss was so crushing for FEU that it dropped the Tamaraws out of the semis picture after a stellar performance in the elims of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.