PGJC-Navy imposed its will in the middle early then went to Jao Umandal in the third as the Sealions ended the Santa Rosa City Lions’ semis playoff hopes with a 25-12, 25-11, 25-22 victory in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the close of the elims at the Paco Arena in Manila yesterday.
Umandal drilled in the bulk of his 12-point output in the stretch where the Sealions had to dig deeper to thwart their young rivals’ last-ditch attempt to extend the match the latter virtually yielded in the face of the Sealions’ commanding performance in the first two sets.
The victory thus closed out Navy’s campaign in the single round robin qualifier with a 5-1 (win-loss card) anchored on a four-win run capped by its four-set reversal over Cignal HD last Sept. 13.
“We’re happy with the win. We really prepared hard for this and it primed us for the semis battle,” said Navy coach Cecil Cruzad, whose wards brace for a grind against the unbeaten National U-Sta. Elena and Cignal HD in the next round, also a round robin phase.
The win also crushed the City Lions’ bid for a crack at a playoff for the last Final Four seat, which is being disputed by VNS-One Alicia (2-3) and Army (1-4) at presstime.
Santa Rosa wound up with a 1-5 card for joint sixth with Ateneo-Fudgee Barr.
“We always believe our team is strong, and the players affirmed this by helping each other to achieve their goal,” added Cruzad.
Greg Dolor matched Umandal’s output while Jemmy Entig and Peter Quiel each pumped in eight points as the Sealions unloaded 43 attack points, more than doubling the City Lions’ 23-hit effort.
EJ Casana produced 23 excellent sets, feeding his middles to a string of points that spiked their romp in the first two frames.
“It’s a big morale boost as we head to the semis,” said Umandal. “It’s a big motivation for us to finish at 5-1. But it’s a step-by-step process, there’s no time to relax, and we have to work doubly hard in training.”
Navy also finished with five kill blocks against Santa Rosa’s two while pouncing on the City Lions’ miscues to score 24 points while yielding 17 of their own errors.
Jade Disquitado sustained his awesome offensive performance, finishing with 17 points but failed to draw solid backup with the next best Santa Rosa scorer chipping in four points, courtesy of Kris Hernandez.