Rookie-laden USJ-R wins Cesafi volley title

THREE years they labored to get back on that Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. men’s volleyball throne. And finally, it happened.

Even though the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) men’s volleyball squad is mostly composed of rookies, it didn’t show in yesterday’s championship match as the Jaguars displayed veteran savvy to snag the title in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) volleyball tournament, beating the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, 25-23, 32-30, 24-26, 25-23, at the USJ-R Coliseum, to end a three-year wait.

USJ-R last won in 2010, ending their reign with a three-peat. And it has been on the losing track after that.

“I was satisfied with their performance because most of them are first years,” USJ-R coach Grace Antigua said after the game.

It was nip-and-tuck the whole match with neither squad winning by more than two points

in a set. All four sets could have gone either way.

USJ-R took the first set, 25-23, and also the second set but not after fighting for it, figuring in seven slide-twos before taking the set, 32-30.

USJ-R could have swept the game but USPF fought back in the third set with a hot start. The Panthers led most of the third set but USJ-R kept it close. The Jaguars tied the set 22-22 after a service ace by Mark Petancio, who was named the first ever “Best Player of the Game”.

After a see-saw battle to win the set, USPF spiker Edmar Bonono fell awkwardly and was assisted back to the bench by his teammates. But despite the loss of Bonono, who was a key player in USPF’s offense, the Panthers still managed to steal the set, 26-24, with a block and a service error by USJ-R.

The fourth set was as close as the previous three. This time, USJ-R drew first blood and led early after unforced errors by the Panthers.

USPF kept it close and tied the game at 11 following a mistake by USJ-R. USPF took the lead. 14-13 after John Ylanan’s block went in.

John Anteligando’s spike increased USPF’s lead to 15-13, after USJ-R’s time out.

However, USPF’s lead was short-lived after Owen Bellen scored two straight quicks to tie the game at 15.

USPF would never lead the game again after Petancio scored to give USJ-R the lead, 18-17.

USPF, however, would keep it close until the end. Antilegando’s spike that went out-of-bounds gave USJ-R the match point, 24-22. A crucial service error by Kent Verbosidad made it just a singlepoint lead for USJ-R. But Kevin Labay’s forceful spike closed out the game at 25-23.

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