Late in the third set, the DLSU Green Spikers were just three points away from clinching the set and the game. Three more points and their winning streak would be extended to five. Three more points and they would be one step closer to the semifinals.
The NCBA Wildcats, however, would have none of it. Trailing for the majority of the first three sets didn’t keep them from fighting back as they went on to defeat the Green Spikers in five sets, 25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9, in their Spikers’ Turf quarterfinals match at the San Juan Arena.
“Nawalan kami ng receive. Masyado silang [Green Spikers] nagmamadali kaya nawala sa pattern,” Green Spikers head coach Ronald Dulay said after his team failed to capitalize on the advantage they gained early in the game.
Resilience was what got NCBA into the quarterfinals, and today it showed in their come-from-behind win against one of the hottest teams in the tournament.
“Naglaro lang kami ng masaya though natalo kami ng first and second sets. Nag-enjoy lang kami,” shared Wildcat Jason Canlas, who contributed 15 points mostly off attacks.
Paul John Domingo led NCBA with a game-high 19 points, 16 of which came from sharp spikes. Teammates Eden Canlas and Reyson Fuentes added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
On the other hand, the valiant effort by Green Spiker captain Raymark Woo, who scored 18 points through 15 spikes and three blocks, wasn’t enough to give DLSU the win. Arjay Onia, who was awarded Player of the Game honors in their last three outings, finished with only 15 points.
The first two sets were close but the Green Spikers managed to clinch both after capitalizing on the Wildcats’ errors and from the timely spikes from Woo, Ralph Calasin, and Onia. However, as the game went on, NCBA began to gather steam. Drawing energy from the crowd, the Wildcats broke a 22-all deadlock late in the third set by scoring three straight points to take the set, 25-22.
In the fourth set, NCBA continued to have control over the Green Spikers as they held leads heading into both technical timeouts. DLSU remained within striking distance, but they couldn’t get over the hump as the Wildcats went on to win the set, 25-23.
The tandem of Domingo and Fuentes alternated attacks in the final set to give their team a 6-0 lead that put them ahead for good. La Salle would cut the lead to four halfway through the fifth set, but costly errors combined with the momentum gained by their rejuvenated opponents were too tough to overcome.
Although the Wildcats committed more errors than La Salle, 43-32, their ferocious attacks tipped the scales as they tallied 63 points off spikes as compared to only 49 for DLSU. In addition, five different Wildcats recorded a service ace, which played a vital role in their comeback.
“Unang-una naming focus is yung pag-receive ng service. Wala kaming problema sa attack, ang problema namin ay hindi kami maka-receive,” Dulay lamented.
The FEU Tamaraws will be DLSU’s next opponent in the quarterfinals, with both teams facing off next Monday, August 24, at 3pm in the San Juan Arena.