PLDT bags Spikers’ Turf crown, too

Members of the PLDT Home Ultera celebrate after beating the Cagayan Rising Suns for a sweep of the inaugural Spikers' Turf crown at The Arena.(pr)
Members of the PLDT Home Ultera celebrate after beating the Cagayan Rising Suns for a sweep of the inaugural Spikers’ Turf crown at The Arena.(pr)

PLDT Home Ultera completed its sweep of the premier volley titles as the Ultra Fast Spikers wore down the Cagayan Rising Suns in a tight fourth set duel to pull off a 25-15, 25-11, 23-25, 30-28 victory yesterday and capture the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan.

Unlike in their counterparts’ sudden death victory over the Army Lady Troopers, however, the Ultra Fast Spikers didn’t go through a wringer as they swept the Rising Suns in their best-of-three series with a pair of four-set victories to emerge as champions of the first-ever men’s volley league organized by Sports Vision.

With Mark Alfafara on the firing end, PLDT overpowered Cagayan with its efficient spiking anchored on a solid net defense that stymied the Rising Suns’ attacks and keyed their one-hour, 48-minute victory.

After churning out a nine-block game in their 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-12 victory in the series’ opener, the PLDT Spikers’ produced a whopping 19-block feat, foiling and frustrating Cagayan’s frontliners no end. PLDT also pounced on Cagayan’s poor reception and scored eight aces while finishing with 53 attacks.

Alfafara proved relentless throughout, finishing with six blocks on top of 16 attacks as the league’s MVP topscored again with 23 hits while drawing a big 19-hit effort from Howard Mojica and a combined 30-point output from Vic De Guzman, Jayron Ramos and Kheeno Franco.

The win thus capped PLDT’s domination of the sport after its ladies counterparts, led by national team mainstays Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Gretchel Soltones and Denden Lazaro, outlasted the Lady Troopers in five in their thrilling sudden death duel before a record crowd last Sunday.

On the other hand, it a sorry ending to Cagayan’s campaign after a dominant performance in the eight-team elims which it topped with a 6-1 card.

Earlier, Marck Espejo was named MVP and best outside spiker of the conference but came up short in the game that mattered most with just 14 hits.

Other awardees were PLDT’s John Paul Torres (second best outside spiker), Cagayan’s Ericson Ramos (libero), Cignal’s Reyson Fuentes (Best middle blocker), Cagayan’s Peter Torres (second best middle blocker) and Alfafara (opposite spiker).

Air Force repeated over Cignal, 25-21, 25-21, 25-20, to capture third place honors in the event presented by PLDT Home Ultera and backed by Mikasa.

The Airmen, who fought back from 1-2 set down and snatched a 25-20, 21-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-12 win in the opener of their best-of-three series for third last Sunday, re-asserted their might on the net, blasting in 46 attacks and coming up with nine blocks while scoring three aces as against the HD Spikers’ 35-attack, six-block, one-ace performance.

Jeffrey Malabanan stood at the forefront of Air Force’s charge for the second straight time, punching in 17 hits while Edwin Tolentino and Ruben Inaudito backed him up with 14 and 12 markers, respectively.

Edmar Bonono and Jay dela Cruz combined for 19 hits while Reyson Fuentes and Herschel Ramos added seven and six points, respectively, for the HD Spikers.(pr)

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