By Jerome Lagunzad
(The Arena, San Juan)
10 a.m. — Megabuilders vs. Gamboa (M)
1 p.m. — Air Force vs. Army (M)
4 p.m. — Perlas Banko vs. Adamson (W)
6:30 p.m. — Creamline vs. Air Force (W)
BaliPure vented its ire on University of the Philippines, 25-23, 25-21, 25-23, last night and put its title campaign back on track in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Ace spiker Grethcel Soltones fired away a team-high 18 points, 16 of them coming from the offensive end, while Fil-Japanese middle blocker Risa Sato sealed the deal with a pair of clutch plays in the decisive set to help the Water Defenders repulse the Lady Maroons’ late charge.
More importantly, BaliPure bounced back from a four-set defeat inflicted by Creamline last Wednesday and improved its record to 2-1.
“We showed good teamwork,” stressed Water Defenders coach Roger Gorayeb, sounding satisfied with his wards’ collective efforts on both ends.
Setter Jasmin Nabor made 40 excellent sets while the 5-foot-10 Sato rose to the occasion just in time, her biggest kill putting BaliPure at match point before denying top UP scorer Isa Molde at the net to clinch the victory.
“Sinabi lang sa amin ni coach na dapat hindi kami mag-kampante at mag-push lang palagi. At the same time, kailangan mag-enjoy rin kami,” said Soltones, a former three-time NCAA league MVP winner while playing for San Sebastian.
The 5-foot-7 Molde sizzled with 22 points while Tots Carlos added 18 markers but UP still came up short, leading to its second straight loss and dropping into a tie with Banko Perlas at the cellar.
In men’s play, national team star Mark Alfafara showed the way as Cignal turned back Sta. Elena, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20 to gain a share of the early lead.
The 6-foot-2 Alfafara, a former University of Santo Tomas standout, scattered a game-high 18 points, all coming from the offensive end, while setter Vince Mangulabnan had 40 excellent sets as the HD Spikers overcame a hard-fighting Wrecking Balls crew.
The hard-earned victory came on the heels of its relatively easy straight-sets victory against Cafe Lupe last week, enabling Cignal to join idle Air Force and Megabuilders atop the eight-team field with identical 2-0 records.
And HD Spikers coach Oliver Almadro was left impressed with Alfafara’s latest performance, especially on his ability to fire up his teammates. “Kahit nagkakamali siya, he really keeps the communication going para mabuhay ang team,” he said.
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