Defending champion Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) will start its back-to-back championship bid when it battles University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in Game 1 of their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 91 men’s volleyball best-of-three finals series at The Arena in San Juan City.
The General-Altas match is at 2 p.m.
EAC earned a return trip to the finals by ousting San Beda College, 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 15-9, while Perpetual Help outplayed College of Saint Benilde, 33-31, 25-22, 23-25, 23-25, 15-9, in their respective Final Four matches.
Season 90 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Howard Mojica, Israel Encina and Kerth Melliza are expected to deliver for the Generals against the Altas’ power troika of Rey Taneo Jr., Relan Taneo and Bonjomar Castel.
In the women’s division, thrice-to-beat holder San Sebastian College hopes to sustain its momentum when it clashes with College of Saint Benilde in Game 1 scheduled at 4 p.m.
The Lady Stags, owner of 24 titles in the league, secured a spot in the finals after sweeping the nine-game elimination round.
“Our main focus now is Game One, nothing else,” said San Sebastian head coach Roger Gorayeb, who will be relying on power hitting Grethcel Soltones – the reigning MVP.
On the other hand, the Lady Blazers needed to hurdle two do-or-die games in the stepladder semifinals to make it to the championship round.
They blasted University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 16-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-21, in the first stage of the stepladder before dethroning Arellano University via an impressive 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 straight-set victory in the second phase of the playoff.
Middle blocker Jeanette Panaga and open hitter Janine Navarro will spearhead Benilde’s frontline along with veteran setter Djanel Welch Cheng.
The Lady Stags hold a 2-0 edge against the Lady Blazers in their finals showdown.
San Sebastian beat Benilde in the 2008 and 2009 editions.
EMIL C. NOGUERA