Generals march to fourth straight championship appearance
Mark Escarlote on Jan 15, 2016 02:59 PM
Emilio Aguinaldo College clinched the first NCAA men's volleyball championship seat.
The defending champion and top seed Emilio Aguinaldo College relied on its vast experience to pull off a 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 15-9 win despite its season-worst 50 errors against an upset-conscious San Beda Red Spikers in the 91st NCAA men’s volleyball Final Four as the Generals advanced to their fourth straight championship appearance Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
EAC’s veteran composure was evident in the final stretch of the fifth set as the Generals shook their way out of a 6-6 tie with a closing 9-3 blast to secure the first seat in the best-of-three championship.
“’Yun nga ang ginamit ko, ang experience. Sinabi ko nga sa mga players ko, “Di naman naming pahirapan ang sarili namin. Kailangan lang namin maging mature sa laro kasi hindi naman kami dapat napunta sa ganoong sitwasyon sa laro,” said EAC head coach Rodrigo Palmero.
The Generals will try to defend their crown against former champion Perpetual Help on Tuesday.
Reigning Most Valuble Player Howard Mojica, who suffered a bruised right knee when he collided with a teammate in the third set, delivered another monster performance with 31 points including 27 coming off attacks – including the match-clinching cross that sealed the one-hour, 55-minute showdown.
Israel Encina had 13 markers while Kerth Melliza scored 10 for EAC, which defeated the Red Lions in the elims also in five sets.
The Generals controlled the first two sets but failed to finish off SBC, which had a decent run this season considering the squad was winless last year. And Palmero knew why.
“Kaya naging ganoon kasi nakita naman natin na naging sobrang confident ng team ko saka nakaramdam yung ibang player ko na may problema sa katawan kaya lumabas ang pressure sa kanila,” he said.
The Red Lions behind Gerald Zabala and Earl Kenneth Gonzales gave the Generals a problem at the start of the deciding frame tying the match at 6. But from there Encina, Melliza, and Mojica took over.
Zabala finished with 12 points while Gonzales and Alfie Mascarinas had 11 markers each for the Red Spikers, who got 50 of their total of 98 points from the Generals’ atrocious errors.
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