Year two in the rebuilding of the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers opened on a high note as the Espana-based spikers made quick work of the National College of Business and Arts Wildcats, 25-18, 25-20, 25-13, Monday afternoon at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
UST’s outside hitter Arnold Bautista led all scorers with 14 points, 12 coming off attacks while the rest came from blocks. Sophomore Manuel Medina added 10 markers, all from kills.
“More on participation,” UST head coach Odjie Mamon shared about his realistic expectations for the team this conference. “I’m encouraging them to overachieve and get as much wins as possible.”
The Tiger Spikers quickly pounced on the Wildcats in the opening set. The UST lead grew to as high as seven, 23-16, before a service error by team captain Ralph Oclima and a successful block of Jason Canlas by Juren Buro sealed the set 25-16.
In contrast to the opening set, the start of the second stanza was close. However, the Tiger Spikers were able to breakaway with a 5-0 run – majority of the points coming from attack errors by Oclima and Russell Nullar – to gain a 17-11 lead. The spikers from Espana never looked back as the Wildcats could only punch in points coming from errors by UST. A kill by Bautista and a four touch violation by the Wildcats gave another set to UST.
“Yung starters kelangan pang gamitin kasi nag-aadjust pa sila sa new positions nila mas lalo na sa middle position,” Mamon shared as he continued to play his starters up to the final set.
“Kahit controlled namin yung game, hindi ako nagpasok ng ibang players para magamay nila yung laro.”
Errors by the demoralized Wildcats became the story of the final set. A total of 12 free points were given up by the spikers from Fairlane as the UST lead ballooned to as high as 21-9. After a couple of errors by the Tiger Spikers, an off the net conversion by Juren Buro coupled by two attack errors by Canlas gave UST the match point. As poetic as one can be, the match ended with a service error by Nullar.
“Ngayon, erratic pa rin mas lalo na sa service,” the UST mentor said about the win. “Maliban dun sa isang mahabang rally, kontrolado pa rin namin.”
Jason Canlas and guest player Jeffrey Jimenez paced the Wildcats with seven markers each.
The upstart Tiger Spikers (B, 1-0) next face the debuting San Beda Red Spikers on Wednesday, August 10 at 1:00pm. The NCBA Wildcats (B, 0-1), on the other hand, face a tough task in facing the UP Fighting Maroons (B, 1-0) on Monday, August 8 at 10:00am.
UST (3) – Bautista 14, Medina 10, Buro 8, Carodan 8, Amagan 7, Tajanlangit 2, Francisco 0, Icalina 0, Umandal 0, Sawal L, Opp errors 27.
NCBA (0) – Canlas 7, Jimenez 7, Valenzuela 4, Oclima R. 4, Nullar 4, Guanzon 1, Nidua 0, Ordonez 0, Oclima C. 0, Gabutero 0, Vicente L, Lavin 0, Opp errors 23.