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Young San Beda enters Final Four, eliminates Arellano

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“The goal this year is makabawi from last year and make the Final Four, and I’m happy that we were able to achieve that,” said San Beda Head Coach Jose Roque.

After going winless last season, the San Beda College Red Spikers achieved a quick turnaround, making the NCAA Season 91 Men’s Volleyball Tournament Final Four after eliminating the Arellano University Chiefs in their do-or-die outing 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22 at the FilOil Flying V Centre earlier today.

Arellano mainly struggled with limiting their errors in key moments of the match, managing to match San Beda’s powerful attacking but gave away points that resulted in most of San Beda’s leads. In the opening set, San Beda opposite hitter Mark Enciso broke a 20-all deadlock with a thundering off the block hit which the Chiefs compounded with back-to-back net touches. San Beda protected their three point lead and took the opening frame.

The Chiefs then managed to trim a five-point Red Spikers’ lead down to two, 16-18, in the next set. But again surrendered costly miscues that led to a 3-0 San Beda counter run. Buried in a five-point hole, 16-21, Arellano tried to fight back with nifty attacks but Enciso and Red Spikers’ team captain Alfie Mascarinas combined for San Beda’s last four points to seal a 2-0 sets lead.

The third set was San Beda’s turn to relinquish key errors. Tied at 19, Arellano got a boost from consecutive San Beda attack errors, capping a 3-0 run with a Kenneth Aliyacyac down the line kill. Attacks from Mascarinas gave the Red Spikers a chance to take the set but Aliyacyac put the set away with blocks on consecutive points for Arellano’s only set win.

Using all the momentum from their set win, Arellano lept out to an early lead in the fourth set but lost all energy when open hitter Joseph Cabillan went down with an injury. Trailing by two at that point, the Red Spikers claimed six of the next eight points for a 14-11 lead. San Beda held on to their three-point advantage all the way into the late game until they surrendered three straight errors, bringing their lead down to one, 22-21. But Enciso and Mascarinas again rescued their team in the late game, as they had the entire season, finishing combination plays that gave San Beda the match.

Enciso led all scorers with 19 points while Gerald Zabala and Mascarinas contributed 13 and 12 points respectively. Kenneth Aliyacyac towed the Chiefs with 14 points with Kevinn Liberato and Joseph Cabillan providing 10 markers apiece.

“Overall, bata pa ‘yung team namin kaya para maabot namin agad ‘yung Final Four, malaking achievement na para sa amin. Ngayon, we’ll just take it one game at a time,” exrpressed Roque. The Red Spikers will now play the first seed, Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals who hold a twice-to-beat advantage. Game One will be on Friday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores:

San Beda (3) – Enciso 19, Zabala 13, Mascarinas 12, Manliclic 12, Gonzales E. 10, Desuyo 1,Gonzales B. 0, Viray 0, Casin (L).
Arellano (1) – Aliyacyac 14, Cabillan 1o, Liberato 10, Latip 9, Santo 4, Sarino 4, Segovia 3, Del Espiritu 2, Digal 0, Soriano 0, Meneses 0, Dela Cruz (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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