MANILA, Philippines – Fresh off a third-place finish in the Reinforced Conference, the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters sustained their momentum in finishing off the San Sebastian College Golden Stags in Group C of the Spikers' Turf Open Conference.
The Power Hitters booked a quick 25-15, 25-21, 25-21 triumph on Sunday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Former National University setter Kim Dayandante, who was picked up by PLDT ahead of the conference, played his first game as a Power Hitter and registered two points while playing only in the first and third sets.
Despite the win, PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon admitted that the team still has a lot of work to do – especially on building their chemistry with the team's latest acquisition.
"We still have to work on ano, doon sa changes sa line-up namin. 'Yun nga, we have to work on doon sa pag-jell niya [Dayandante] doon sa ibang players," explained Mamon.
Mark Alfafara paced the Power Hitters with 11 points on 8 attacks, 2 blocks, and an ace, while team captain Johnvic De Guzman had 7 points to help PLDT gain its debut win.
PLDT displayed its offensive brilliance as 12 out of the 14 players fielded in the match registered a point for the Power Hitters – a testament to the team's wide arsenal of offensive weapons.
Ronchette Villegas orchestrated the offensive attack with 12 excellent sets, while Rence Melgar led the defense with 22 excellent receptions.
Meanwhile, Reynald Honra fired 14 points for San Sebastian while Robbie Pamittan added seven markers in a losing cause. The Stags now possess a 0-1 slate.
Also picking up their first victories were the Arellano University Chiefs and the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals.
With his team at the jaws of defeat, Christian Dela Paz lifted Arellano over the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tiger Spikers in cardiac fashion, 20-25, 28-26, 23-25, 25-22, 16-14, in Group D.
With the Chiefs up by two in the final set, 11-9, UST team captain Wewe Medina mustered all his strength and fired two consecutive markers to tie the game.
However, Dela Paz and CJ Segovia took over from there and gave Arellano a 13-12 advantage. UST was able to send the game to a deuce, but an attack error from Lorenz Señoron sealed the Tigers' fate.
"Medyo napunta lang sa amin yung breaks kaya nakuha 'yung game, pero nice game naman sa both team. Para sa amin naman first game namin, kailan lang din kami bumalik sa training, so nag-enjoy lang 'yung mga bata," said Arellano head coach Sherwin Meneses.
Dela Paz fired 19 markers along with 8 excellent digs and 8 receptions, while Demy Lapuz chipped in 15 markers to help the Chiefs collect their first win of the tournament.
Segovia was a force above the net for the Chiefs, collecting seven blocks for 11 points while Edmark Meneses steered the offense with 23 excellent sets.
On the other hand, UST - who is playing without top gunner Joshua Umandal - was led by Señoron with 21 points while Genesis Redido added 13.
As per the request of PLDT and UST head coach Odjie Mamon, Umandal will suit up for the Power Hitters for this conference.
Coming from a tight opening day loss against Adamson, EAC vented its frustrations on the National College of Business and Arts Wildcats, 25-15, 25-18, 25-17, in the final game of the day.
Joshua Mina spearheaded the offense for EAC with 14 points, while Joshua Ramilo chipped in eight markers for the Generals who scored their first victory, posting a 1-1 slate.
Vince Imperial had 18 excellent sets while Earl Magadan was a force on the defensive end with 23 excellent receptions and 13 digs.
"Expected ko naman na ganon kasi nandiyan pa 'yung players ko from NCAA na nag-third [place] kaya alam kong kaya nung mga bata. Mas naging aggressive [sila], saka 'yung mga pinractice namin talagang nakita ko,"said EAC head coach Rodrigo Palmero.
The Wildcats – who dropped to the bottom of Group A with a 0-2 win-loss card – was led by Daryl Valenzuela and Baden Pabalate with five points apiece.
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