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.
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.