PERPETUAL Help beat St. Benilde, 25-22, 25-22, 26-24, on Wednesday to set in motion its title-retention campaign in the 92nd NCAA men's volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Sophomore Esmail Kasim had a match-high 15 hits, 10 on kills, three on service aces and two on blocks, to help power the Altas to an early share of the lead with the Letran Knights and the Mapua Cardinals.
Letran escaped with a come-from-behind 19-25, 12-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-10 victory over a hardluck Lyceum side, while Mapua overpowered Jose Rizal, 25-22, 25-15, 25-20.
Rey Taneo, Jr. and Allan Jay Sala-an, both vital cogs in the Las Pinas-based school's title romp a season ago, teamed up with the power-hitting Kasim by scattering 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The other Taneo, setter Relan, did the facilitating by dishing out 30 excellent sets.
Perpetual coach Sammy Acaylar, however, said they still have a lot of room for improvement.
"We need to be consistently aggressive. In all the sets, we started out slow and we only fought back," said Acaylar. "We really need to play with a lot of intensity from start to finish."