CAGAYAN Valley rose from near death to turn back Champion Infinity, 23-25, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22, 16-14, for a rousing win in the inaugural game of the Spikers' Turf men's volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Easter Sunday.
Marck Espejo unloaded 24 points, anchored on 22 spikes, while National University standout Peter Torres made 16 from 11 hits, four blocks and one service ace for the Rising Suns, who rallied from two sets down to fashion out the amazing victory.
Rex Intal and Jan Paglinawan chipped in nine markers apiece for Cagayan Valley, which needed two hours and 22 minutes to complete the win.
“Siyempre hindi pa masyadong magamay (ng mga players ang isa’t isa) kasi nakakadalawang practice pa lang si Intal at Espejo. Medyo may malaking adjustment pa. Kahapon lang at saka nung last week (nag-practice yung dalawa),” Cagayan Valley coach Nes Pamilar said of the team’s top two gunners from Ateneo.
“Mabagal talaga ang umpisa eh.”
Trailing by two sets, Cagayan Valley gained momentum by winning the next two sets, and appeared ready to cruise in the deciding set when it posted a 14-8 lead behind a 7-3 run anchored on Espejo, Torres, Intal, and Paglinawan.
But Champion Infinity rallied with six unanswered points sparked by an Alnasip Laha spike to tie the contest, 14-all.
A service error by Myco Antonio pushed Cagayan Valley to match point before Espejo sealed the win with an attack from the middle.
Joven Camaganakan fired 26 points for Champion Infinity, which finished first runner-up to Instituto Estetico Manila in last year's Shakey's V-League men's tournament.
Antonio and Laja added 13 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Active Smashers.