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Cignal gains share of lead

By JEROME LAGUNZAD

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan)
10 a.m. – Megabuilders vs Gamboa (M)
1 p.m. – Air Force vs Army (M)
4 p.m. – Perlas Banko vs Adamson (W)
6:30 p.m. – Creamline vs Air Force (W)

With national team star Mark Alfafara leading the way, Cignal turned back Sta. Elena, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20 to gain a share of the early lead in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference yesterday at The Arena in San Juan City.

The 6-foot-2 Alfafara, a former University of Santo Tomas standout, scattered a game-high 18 points, all coming from the offensive end, while setter Vince Mangulabnan had 40 excellent sets as the HD Spikers overcame a hard-fighting Wrecking Balls crew.

The hard-earned victory came on the heels of its relatively easy straight-sets victory against Cafe Lupe last week, enabling Cignal to join idle Air Force and Megabuilders atop the eight-team field with identical 2-0 records.

HD Spikers coach Oliver Almadro was impressed with Alfafara’s latest performance, especially with his ability to motivate and inspire his teammates.

“Kahit nagkakamali siya, he really keeps the communication going para mabuhay ang team,” he said.

Former National University ace Berlin Paglinawan tallied a team-best 16 points but he still could not prevent the Wrecking Balls from absorbing their second straight setback and dropping to a 1-2 mark overall.

In the other match, Instituto Estetico Manila compounded the woes of struggling Café’Lupe 25-18, 27-25, 25-19 while making it to the winners’ column.

Mark Enciso and Kurl Rosete tallied 12 points apiece but it was the Volley Masters’ improved net defense that made the difference against the Sunrisers on the way to an even 1-1 mark.

“Nag-focus kami sa depensa. Sa (pag) block pa lang, umaatake na rin kami,” said IEM mentor Renz Ordoñez, pleased with his wards’ eight total blocks that he rarely saw during their straight-sets loss to Sta. Elena last July 2.

Cafe Lupe dropped further down to the cellar with its third consecutive loss, but not after giving IEM a big scare.

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