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Wildcats escape upset-hungry Warriors, break two-game skid in Spikers’ Turf

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The National College of Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats evaded the charge of a University of the East (UE) Red Warriors side that has not won a match in over a year. The former dispatched the latter in five sets 25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 18-25, 16-14 in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

After winning their first two matches, the Wildcats were sent reeling with a two-game slide when they faced off the two favorites in the tournament, NU and EAC. The Wildcats, however, looked like they were able to easily recover after handily taking the first two sets via early onslaughts.

Things began to look grim for the Wildcats when two of their players were sidelined in the third and fourth sets of the match. Wing hitter, PJ Domingo injured his right pinky in the third set, while guest player Edwin Tolentino aggravated a head injury in the fourth set and had to be taken out, due to concussion-like symptoms.

Along with two of their key players, NCBA’s ball control went out the window allowing UE to be more fluid on offense. UE team captain, Edward Camposano and his fellow open hitter, Ruvince Abrot carried their team to two convincing wins in the third and fourth frames and sent the match into a do-or-die fifth set.

The Wildcats looked to have finally pieced their game back together in the final set as they built a three-point lead early and dragged their advantage to match point 14-12. However, the Red Warriors had one last gasp in them with Edward Canposano converting from the back row followed by an Abrot open hit, tying the set at 14. From there, NCBA dug deep and edged out their foes in two consecutive long rallies even ending the match on a lucky bounce from Jason Canlas.

“Ang sabi ko lang sa team noong natatalo kami is just to do their job, do as they were taught in training and the results will follow. Ang masama lang is medyo bata pa kasi ‘yung team kaya may tendency mag-relax kaya nahabol din kami kanina ng UE, and that is something we need to work on moving forward. Hindi naman bago ang NCBA sa paglaban sa malalalakas na teams like Ateneo, La Salle, or UP kaya lalaban kami,” said NCBA head coach, Ernesto Balubar.

Guest player, Reyson Fuentes led the balanced NCBA attack with 12 points while Ralph Oclima and Jason Canlas both added 11 markers.

Camposano dropped a game-high 20 points while Abrot paced the losing UE offense with 15 points. The UE Warriors finished their Spikers’ Turf campaign with a 0-5 record and are yet to win a match since UAAP Season 76.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, carry over a 1-2 record into the Top 8 elimination phase of the tournament where they will face Ateneo, La Salle, CSB, and UP.

The Scores:

NCBA (3) – Fuentes 12, Oclima R. 11, Canlas 11, Tolentino 9, Valenzuela 9, Domingo 7, Nullar 4, Oclima C. 4,Lumacha 2, Ugoy 1, Escobido (L)

UE (2) – Camposano 20, Abrot 15, Advientp 10, Umandal 9, Lelic 6, Alba 3, Magdaong 3, Ortega 2, Saguin 1, Aljas 1, Sawal (L), Inoferio (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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