The University of Perpetual Help System Altas are still undefeated in the NCAA Season 94 men’s volleyball tournament after edging the College of Saint Benilde Blazers in five closely-fought sets to get a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three championship series.
Errors killed CSB from a 10-10 tie in the deciding set. Consecutive mistakes from Vince Abrot plus a service ace by Ronniel Rosales opened up a three-point lead for Perpetual. Francis Basilan responded to take one point back but a service error by Ronnie Adviento brought the Altas to match point. Abrot gave life to the Blazers’ cause with a spike that went through the UPHSD blockers. However, Mark Bation finished the set and the match with a successful attack from Zone 2.
Rosales is hailed as Player of the Game with 12 attack points, five kill blocks, and two aces. The Altas can win another title if they can take Game 2 which is slated on Tuesday, February 5, at 2 pm.
The Blazers raced to an 8-5 lead in the first set but Perpetual forced a deadlock at 12. CSB held a slim 16-15 edge going into the second technical timeout but converted three unanswered points after to open a 19-15 advantage. The defending champions trimmed the gap again at 20-19 but the squad of Coach Arnold Laniog made three straight points to move two points away from an opening set win.
An attack by Abrot that went off the Perpetual blockers brought the Blazers at set point but a quick 3-0 run led by Joebert Almodiel narrowed the deficit at 24-23. However, Adviento made sure that the first set will not be extended as his spike breaches through the Perpetual blockers to claim the set for the men in green and white, 25-23.
From a 4-4 tie in the second set, Perpetual played with urgency via a 7-2 run. The Altas still held the lead by the second TTO at 16-10 and never looked back. The Blazers did slash the lead to three, 22-19, but two consecutive points by the Sammy Acaylar-coached squad gave them set point. Owen Bacani took one point back before Almodiel scored on an attack to end the set at 25-20.
Almodiel waxed hot early in the third set to establish a 6-4 advantage for the Altas. But Abrot and CSB team captain Basilan sparked a scoring spurt to take the lead at 8-7 by the first TTO. Perpetual ignited another scoring dash to build a 15-12 advantage but the Blazers grabbed the lead once again at 16-15 going into the second TTO. Another Almodiel spike tied the count at 16 but CSB went on a 5-0 run to open a comfortable lead.
Another Abrot spike that went through the blockers gave the Blazers set point but the Altas scored three straight points to chop the deficit to one. Yet just like what he did in the first set, Adviento’s on-target spike ended set three to CSB’s favor, 25-23.
It looked as if Perpetual will easily clear the fourth set with a 21-15 lead. But a 7-2 run punctuated by an Abrot spike brought CSB to within 23-22. Bation brought the Altas to set point with a cross court attack but Adviento responded to make the count 24-23. The game went to a fifth set when an Abrot net touch infraction ended the set at 25-23 for the Altas.