V-League: Green Spikers falter late against the Tamaraws, suffer first loss in the tournament

The Green Spikers failed to secure a victory in a tightly contested match against the FEU Tamaraws—to whom they lost earlier this year in their step ladder matchup of UAAP Season 85—in their eliminations matchup in the 2023 V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge, 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 17-15 today, August 20, at the Paco Arena. 

Prolific scorer Noel Kampton led the charge for the Green Spikers with 20 points. He was backed up by Vince Maglinao, who tallied 17 points in the match. Team captain JM Ronquillo and JJ Rodriguez were also key scorers for La Salle, chipping in 14 and 13 points, respectively. 

Exhibiting dominance on the court, Zhydryx Saavedra led the Tamaraws with 25 points, all from spikes. Andrei Delicana gave his support as he tallied 16 points from 12 attacks, three blocks, and a service ace. Jomel Codilla and Martin Bugaoan also posted nine and eight points, respectively.

Cold start

Pulling his side back from early back-to-back errors, Maglinao scored the Green Spikers’ first point through a block on Saavedra, 2-1. With the wing spikers from both teams yet to heat up, Diogenes Poquita ignited a showdown in the middle by activating Rodriguez with a quick hit. FEU was quick to answer back from the middle with an attack from Bugaoan to sustain their lead, 4-2. Finding the gap in the Tamaraws’ floor defense, Ronquillo scored with a drop ball to tie the game, 5-all. A series of smart plays from the side of the Green Spikers, with a one-two play from Poquita and a power tip in the middle from Eric Layug, gave them a one-point lead, 7-6.

Still lacking the energy boost they needed, Green Spiker Kampton surprised everyone in the arena when his emphatic down-the-line hit went straight to Saavedra’s face to establish a two-point advantage, 14-12. Fresh from FEU’s bench, Lirick Mendoza scored through a block on Kampton to snatch the lead in favor of FEU, 16-15. La Salle’s Eric Layug and Ronquillo teamed up at the top of the net to put a stop to the long rally, DLSU regaining the lead with the scoreline at 18-17.

The Morayta-based squad scored two consecutive points out of the scrambling system on the court. The Green and White were forced to call for time with FEU in the lead, 21-19. The Tamaraws finally sealed the set at 25-22 with a simple drop by Saavedra on the open field of the Green Spikers.

Fighting spirit

Team captain Ronquillo commenced the second frame by putting up two kills to give the Green Spikers a single-point advantage, 2-1. The next few rallies in the set saw an exchange of blows and service errors from both squads eager to get into an early rhythm, 4-3. An attack from Jelord Talisayan that slotted in zone six equalized the set at 4-all but was quickly answered by a running attack from Rodriguez. Looking to strike fast, the high-flying Ronquillo sent a mesmerizing kill down the middle to give DLSU a 7-5 lead, which was followed by an attack error from FEU’s Saavedra to send the set into its first technical timeout, 8-5. 

Out of the break, FEU and DLSU immediately traded errors to set the score at 9-6, but a service ace from Kampton turned the tide and gave the Green Spikers a four-point advantage, 10-6. After a substitution from the Tamaraws, DLSU continued to apply pressure by scoring two consecutive points from a Maglinao block and a Nat Del Pilar kill down the middle, forcing FEU to take a timeout, 12-6. The Green Spikers maintained their hold on their lead in a series of nip-and-tuck exchanges, and it was Rodriguez who fueled DLSU heading into the set’s second technical timeout by scoring off blocks and kills, 16-11. 

The Tamaraws refused to hand the Green Spikers the reins, with Delicana scoring back-to-back points to cut DLSU’s lead to three, 16-13. An error from Ronquillo and another kill from Delicana trimmed DLSU’s lead even further, giving the Green Spikers no choice but to use up a timeout to stop FEU’s run, 16-15. 

More back-and-forth rallies ensued out of the timeout, and an explosive hit from Saavedra placed the score at 19-18 in favor of DLSU. Unwilling to surrender DLSU’s lead, outside hitter Maglinao stepped up by coming up with the Green Spikers’ next three points, 22-19. The Green Spikers then closed out the set with the team’s collective effort and tied the match at one set apiece, proving they had the mettle to win in a neck-and-neck battle, 25-20. 

Lackluster finish

Showing off an impressive net defense, Rodriguez kicked off the third set with some swag after a kill block against Delicana, 1-0. FEU had a tough time getting through the net defense of La Salle with four consecutive block touches before Kampton ended the long rally with a cross-court hit, 2-0. The team from Taft went on a run to score two consecutive points from Poquita going with a drop ball and Kampton maximizing an over-receive, 4-1. FEU was able to keep it close through a quick from Bugaoan in the middle and a service ace from Delicana, 5-4. 

The ever-reliable Kampton exhibited diversity in his skills as he escaped the blockers of FEU in the front line and served an ace from the back end. Del Pilar then widened the gap, maximizing another over-receive from the Tamaraws to send his side into the first technical timeout of the frame up by four, 8-4. Dependent on the errors of the green shirts, FEU whittled down the lead of the Green Spikers to two after a drop from Martinez, 11-9. La Salle setter Poquita shocked the defensive pattern after landing another drop ball as the error-plagued Tamaraws were met with a pipe attack from Ronquillo, 14-9.

Unfazed by the blockers of La Salle, Saavedra squeezed the ball through the hands of the blockers thrice in a row to cut the lead down to one, 15-14, forcing DLSU to call for a time. Awakened by the sense of urgency, team captain Ronquillo stepped up for his team and led the huddle before landing a cross-court attack from the back row, 17-15. 

Proving his through-the-block hits effective, Saavedra tallied another one to switch the tempo of the set on the side of FEU, 21-all. Delicana and Saavedra both recognized the lacking floor defense of Menard Guerrero, DLSU’s libero, and targeted him on three consecutive attack points to steal the lead and bring FEU to set point, 24-23. A block on Rodriguez’s running attack closed the set in favor of FEU, 25-23, giving the Tamaraws the set lead.

Fiery Rush

The Green Spikers entered the fourth set aiming to push the match to a decisive fifth set. This will to win was thoroughly displayed in the opening moments of the set, with DLSU taking an early advantage off of miscues from FEU and contributions from different members of the Taft-based squad, 6-2. Rodriguez pushed this lead even further by scoring two consecutive block points and exuberated swagger in his celebrations, giving DLSU a substantial six-point lead, 8-2. 

With a strong hit, Maglinao was able to force the ball past two FEU blockers, but this was swiftly returned by a Bugaoan missile down the court, 10-5. Rodriguez, with his hot hands, continued his swagger-filled play by getting a kill to grant La Salle a six-point advantage. DLSU carried on with their onslaught by scoring three consecutive markers, highlighted by a resounding two-handed block by Del Pilar, 15-8. A service error by Ariel Cacao that saw the ball fly too far out of bounds held up La Salle’s lead entering the second technical timeout, 16-9. 

In a lengthy rally, Delicana was able to score a point to cut the lead to 16-10, and the lead was cut further down a point by a miscommunicated play from La Salle. DLSU, however, bounced back by getting consecutive points from a Codilla service error and a Maglinao tip-in that ballooned the lead, 18-11. After an FEU timeout, Maglinao kept up the tempo by scoring two more points that saw La Salle amass a hefty nine-point advantage, 20-11. This was then followed by a point that was taken back from DLSU and awarded to FEU as a result of Poquita committing a violation by appearing on the frontline, 20-12. The Tamaraws reciprocated with an error of their own, which forced officials to award the Green Spikers with a point, 21-12. 

Three straight points from the Green and Gold showed that they were not ready to give up and compelled DLSU to take a timeout, 21-15. Right off the bench and entering the match for the first time, Glen Ventura contributed a point to the La Salle tally, 22-15. A long break that lasted several minutes that saw game officials huddled in discussions gave everyone in the building a breather, but this proved to work to DLSU’s advantage as the Tamaraws committed consecutive errors to send the match to set point, 24-15. Eventually, it was an FEU error that sent the teams to a winner-take-all final set, 25-16. 

Losing grip

After exhibiting consistency in the previous sets, FEU Head Coach Eddieson Orcullo sat out starting setter and team captain Benny Martinez and opted to go with their veteran playmaker Ariel Cacao to start the fifth set.

Saavedra found the line with a cross-court kill to draw the first point in the deciding set and another using the hands of Ronquillo, who went for a single block, 2-1. With the score at 7-4, Cacao won a joust at the net against the taller Kampton to sustain FEU’s advantage. However, Ronquillo’s cross-court attack and block on Codilla awakened the offense of the Green Spikers, 9-8, with La Salle taking over the lead. Errors plagued the Tamaraws to stretch the lead of the Green Spikers, 13-9. 

In what seemed like an easy five-set finish for the green shirts, a timeout was all it took for FEU to start hunting down DLSU’s lead. Saavedra used the block of Del Pilar to their advantage and took over the lead, 14-13. The eventual player of the game would go on to score back-to-back points for the Tamaraws to finally cap off the game, 17-15.

After this heartbreaking loss, the DLSU Green Spikers will look to get back on track and secure their second victory of the tournament when they face the SBU Red Lions at 4 pm on August 27 at the same venue.

The Scores:

DLSU 2 – Kampton 20, Maglinao 17, Ronquillo 14, Rodriguez 13, Del Pilar 5, Poquita 4, Layug 1, Ventura 1

FEU 3 – Saavedra 25, Delicana 16, Codilla 9, Bugaoan 8, Talisayan 5, Mendoza 3, Cacao 2, Garriedo 1
Set Scores: 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 15-17

Luis Agus

By Luis Agus

Jaden Alberto

By Jaden Alberto

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