ALSALI Pajiji anchored the Philippine Merchant Marine School Mariners to another big win as they pulled off a 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-15 subduing of the Olivarez College Sea Lions Monday at their own homecourt in Las Pinas.
It took the Mariners 71 minutes to get past the Sea Lions’ gritty defense and take Game 1 of their best-of-three title series in the 21st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCRAA) men’s volleyball tournament.
Earlier, the defending champion La Salle-Dasmarinas Lady Patriots prevailed over Rizal Technological University, 22-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-20, to rule the opener of the Finals in the women’s division.
The Lady Patriots banked on the services of Mariel Desengano and Sigrid Abalos to get ahead, 20-15, in the fourth set of their 92-minute showdown to seal the win.
The 5-foot-7 Pajiji, a 21-year old spiker from Tawi-Tawi, first came into the picture in the second set, finding openings in the Sea Lions’ defense and coming up with kills and drop shots at the left side to score the points, which helped PMMS grab a 14-9 lead.
His efforts came right after the Sea Lions stayed close at 6-all, behind Russell Palisoc’s drop smash.
In the third set, Pajiji’s placement shot at the net allowed PMMS to tie the match for the last time, 18-all, before the school moved ahead on his ace, Drexler Morales’ spikes and Ericson Chan’s placement shot at the left, 21-18.
He and Faisal Bullong then handed PMMS a four-point lead in the fourth set with their kills, 13-9, en route to the win.
“Madepensa ang Olivarez College kaya alalay din kami sa defense at sa receives namin. Hindi na naming pinaabot ng fifth set kasi babawi ang Olivarez College, at delikado na sa Game 2 dahil sa home-court na nila kami,” said Mariners coach Robert Buanemente.