DE LA SALLE rode a big fourth-set fightback and outlasted University of the Philippines (UP) in a tight finish to carve out a 25-22, 24-26, 15-25, 25-13, 15-13 decision and assure itself of at least a second-place finish in Group B of the Spikers’ Turf Season 1-Collegaite Conference at The Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday.
Arjay Onia unloaded a match-best 25 hits, including 20 on kills, three on blocks and two aces, as the Green Archers wound up with a 4-1 (win-loss) record after the single-round eliminations of the event presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Ateneo leads the pack with a 4-0 card and eyed a sweep against College of Saint Benilde late Wednesday.
“We just showed composure in the end,” De La Salle Coach Ronald Dulay said.
De La Salle skipper Raymark Woo fired 17 hits, while Mike Anthony Frey tossed in 12 markers to help the Green Archers move into the next phase on a winning note with its eliminations record a big plus in the carryover quarterfinals.
Team captain Alfred Gerard Valbuena uncorked a team-high 21 for the Maroons, who closed out their eliminations campaign with a 3-2 slate.
Aside from Ateneo, De La Salle and UP, College of Saint Benilde also advanced with a 2-3 mark.
Group B teams will play all four of the Group A qualifiers, headed by National U (5-0), Emilio Aguinaldo College (4-1), Far Eastern U (2-3) and National College of Business and Arts (2-2).
The Green Archers actually overwhelmed the Maroons in spikes, 60-38, pouring in the bulk in their one-sided fourth-set romp. But they needed to toughen up in the fifth and frustrate the Diliman-based netters with clutch hits.
UP leaned on its superb blocking to take command after three sets, 3-1, with Evan Raymundo coming through with seven blocks for a 13-hit output and Gian Kyle San Pascual putting off five for UP’s 16-block effort, six more than De La Salle’s.