PLDT claims first Spikers' Turf title after defeating Cagayan in four sets

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Just two days after its female counterpart won the Shakey's V-League title in a scintillating final, PLDT made it a double as the men's volleyball team nabbed the very first Spikers' Turf championship after defeating Cagayan, 25-15, 25-11, 23-25, 30-28, in the second game of the best-of-three finals at the FilOil Flying V Arena on Tuesday night.

The Ultra Fast Hitters, who won Game 1 on Sunday, swept the titular series against the Rising Suns, but they needed to overcome a late surge from the opposition to do so.

After badly conceding the first two sets, Cagayan raced to a good start in Set 3 as Peter Torres, Rex Intal, and Jan Paglinawan led the team to a 5-3 advantage.

But a five-point swing pushed PLDT up, 8-5, entering the first technical timeout. The club led, 13-10, later in the set.

Paglinawan and Marck Espejo helped uncork a 12-5 run that put the Rising Suns up, 22-18.

The UFH stayed in the set as Mark Alfafara and Vic De Guzman led a late 5-1 charge to tie, 23-all, but the Rising Suns took the third frame as Paglinawan scored a spike and Torres got a block point.

Cagayan appeared to put the game to a deciding fifth set as the team took a 16-10 lead at the second technical timeout of Set 4 and a 21-17 cushion later in the set.

But a 7-2 run put PLDT at match point, 24-23, as Howard Mojica caught fire late in the fourth set. De Guzman failed to give PLDT the win as his serve only hit the net, forcing the deuce.

The UFH got more cracks at the win during the extension, but the Rising Suns responded and forced the last deuce at 28-all.

PLDT finally nailed the win after scoring back-to-back points.

Alfafara, adjudged the Finals MVP, led the UFH with 23 points on 16 attacks, six blocks, and an ace, while Mojica added 19 markers.

Espejo, the Open Conference MVP, made 14 points on nine spikes, three blocks, and two aces for Cagayan, which failed to deliver a positive news following the series of unfortunate events that happened to its basketball team in the PBA D-League last month.