Perpetual outlasts Lyceum in five sets to move a win away from clinching Final Four berth
Perpetual moved a win away from clinching a Final Four spot after beating Lyceum in five sets. Freddie Dionisio

DEFENDING champion Perpetual Help relied on siblings Rey, Jr. and Relan Taneo to edge Lyceum of the Philippines University, 25-16, 14-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-9, to plant one foot to the Final Four in the men's division of the 92nd NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Rey, Jr. unloaded a match-best 17 hits including 16 off attacks, while Relan did the facilitating with a season-best 61 excellent sets to help the Altas seal their sixth victory in seven outings and at least a playoff for a Final Four berth.

A win either against Jose Rizal on Jan. 20 or Arellano U on Jan. 25 will clinch the Las Pinas-based school a return trip to the Final Four.

To date, Perpetual Help also inched closer to St. Benilde, which currently leads the league with a 7-1 (win-loss) record.

Esmail Kasim scattered 13 points while team captain Manuel Doliente and Allan Jay Sala-an chipped in 11 apiece to help Perpetual’s cause.

Perpetual Help coach Sammy Acaylar said he was impressed with his team's mental toughness.

"The boys showed composure even though we trailed by a set," said Acaylar, who was recently named national men's team coach seeing action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games set Aug. 19-31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Pirates fell to 3-4 and on the brink of elimination.

In juniors' play, LPU came back from two sets down to escape with a shock 19-25, 20-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-12 win over reigning titlist Perpetual Help to move two wins closer from sweeping its way to the finals.

Valeriano Sasis led his team with 16 hits while Genesis Allan Redido, Juvic Colonia and skipper Allen Angelo Calicdan contributed 15, 14 and 10 points, respectively, to help the Junior Pirates preserve a perfect slate after five games.

If LPU beats Arellano on Wednesday and San Sebastian on Jan. 25, it will advance straight to the championship round where it will enjoy a thrice-to-beat edge while turning the Final Four to a stepladder semis.

The Junior Altas fell to 4-2. 

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