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Tiger Spikers throttle Maroons to intensify race for top two spot

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The University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers made a quick thrashing of the UP Fighting Maroons in a 25-12, 28-26, 25-21 sweep on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

UST started on fire as they built a huge cushion early to distance themselves from the Maroons. With their sharp floor and net defense on display in the opening set, they made it hard for UP to manage even back-to-back points. The double-digit lead they installed dictated their momentum as they quickly demolished the Maroons by 13 at the end of the opener.

The second set was mostly led by the Maroons, but their errors haunted the possibility of pulling away. UP held a 24-22 lead in the set, but poor reception hurt their chances to take the point. UST scored two quick points to force an extension in the canto. Equipped with composure and late-set scores, UST finished off a pesky UP team with a two-point escape.

Despite finding their spikes going wide in the start of the third set, UST hung on and managed to make it a close encounter. The Maroons had a 10-6 edge with their net defense making a mark against the España spikers. However, the Golden Spikers went on a 10-4 counter run capped by a service ace from Mark Alfafara to capture the lead and the momentum heading into the late moments of the match. With errors piling up for the rattled Maroons, UST eventually built a five-point lead in the third set en route to the victory.

The one-sided show displayed UST’s dominance in the spiking battle, 48-36, led by Alfafara’s 16. The Tiger Spikers also doubled the blocks, 6-3, in which Jason Sarabia had three alone. In addition, UST scored on four more service aces, 6-2. Both teams had 18 errors.

Alfafara led all scorers with 18 points while captain Romnick Rico added 11. For UP, the only bright spots offensively were Alfred Valbuena and Wendel Miguel with 14 and 11 points respectively.

As of press time, the win gives UST a 10-3 record and hands them a share of the second spot together with Adamson. On the other hand, the eliminated UP squad drops to 4-9.

With the final four games approaching, UST’s last opponent in the elimination round will league-leading Ateneo, while UP faces La Salle.

The scores:

UST(3) – Alfafara 18, Rico 11, Bautista 7, Balse 7, Sarabia 7, Castillo 6, Guzman 2, Tajanlangit 1, Buro 1, Arbasto 0, Dela Cruz 0, Pangan(L) 0, Francisco(L) 0

UP(0) – Valbuena 14, Miguel 11, Raymundo 8, San Pascual 5, San Pedro 3, Cabatingan 0, Acuña 0

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