Arellano University stunned the erstwhile unbeaten University of Perpetual Help with a shocking come-from-behind 12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 26-24, 15-9, win in Game 1 of the 93rd NCAA men’s volleyball competition best-of-three Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan Friday.
The Chiefs rallied from a 1-2 match deficit to draw first blood against the Altas, who swept the nine-game elims for an outright championship berth, and move a step closer to clinching the school’s first title since joining the league in 2009.
Christian Dela Paz, the 2nd Best Open Spiker winner, scattered 24 points including 23 off attacks to power Arellano U, who dethroned College of St. Benilde in the last phase of the stepladder semifinals last Tuesday. Christian Segovia, Joseph Cabillan and Roi Domingo scored nine markers each for the Chiefs, who uncorked 55 attack points off setter Edmark Meneses' 47 excellent sets.
Game 2 of the series is on Monday. If needed, the deciding match is on Thursday.
Arellano U forced a deciding set after holding off the furious comeback attempt of the Altas. Perpetual saved a set point before Dela Paz and Demy Lapuz sealed the frame with back-to-back hits.
Perpetual went off to a good start, building a 17-6 lead to control the opening set.
Arellano equalized with in the second before the Altas made their move to break a 14-14 deadlock in the third frame to build a 20-15 gap as Perpetual held on to take a 2-1 match lead.
Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Joebert Almodiel scored all but one of his 18 points on kills and had 22 excellent receptions while Ridzuan Muhali John Patrick Ramos added 14 and 13 markers, respectively, for a lost cause for Perpetual. Rey Taneo chipped in with 12 markers.
Meanwhile, Letran survived a third straight do-or-die match to book a Finals berth against four-peat-seeking Perpetual Help after taking down twice-to-beat Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25-23, 28-30, 25-23, 25-23, in the junior’s Final Four sudden death.
The Squires, who needed to survive a playoff match against College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills to advance in the semis, defeated the Brigadiers in four sets in the series opener.
John Paulo Lorenzo finished with 16 points while Christian Dela Paz and Mark Omega got 14 and 11 markers, respectively, for Letran.
Danrich Melad paced EAC, who gave away 34 points off errors, with 25 points.
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