Spikers’ Turf: Ridz Muhali takes charge as Imus shuts down Vanguard
MANILA, Philippines — Imus-ITP’s top scorer Louie Ramirez has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference with his campaign with University of Perpetual Help in the NCAA Season 98 men’s volleyball tournament starting this weekend.
But Ridz Muhali stepped up to lead the Cavite-based club in bucking down a slow start before taking down Vanguard, 23-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-20, on Friday at Paco Arena.
Imus coach Sammy Acaylar said Ramirez, who missed his second straight game after scoring a total of 45 points in the first three matches, will no longer play for their club as NCAA’s eligibility screening started last February 11.
Muhali filled in the void left by their go-to guy as he poured in 18 points built on 15 attacks and three blocks to beat Vanguard and lift his team to an improved 4-1 record, behind idle leaders Iloilo and Cignal, who are tied at 4-0.
“I am just embracing my role. I don’t want to let coach Sammy down because he trusts me. I want to make the most of this opportunity by playing my game because not everyone gets a chance to play here,” said Muhali in Filipino.
Kim Malabunga also led the AJAA Spikers with 15 points off 12 kills and three blocks. Ronniel Rosales chipped in 11 markers, as back-up setter Rey Taneo shone with 21 excellent sets, stepping up for team captain Ish Polvorosa, who was under the weather.
“Ish was not feeling well so I gave Rey Taneo a chance. Good thing, he was effective. He knows how to follow my style because he has been my player since he was with Perpetual,” Acaylar said in Filipino.
The AJAA Spikers needed a wake-up call from a first-set loss before taking full control of the next three to send Vanguard to its fourth straight defeat.
“Of course, we won the game. I am satisfied. But they were playing better in our tune-up games. I think it’s a matter of complacency. Knowing the Filipino culture, when you have the advantage against your opponent, you tend to relax,” Acaylar said. “That’s why I told them to always respect your opponents regardless if they are strong or not because once they win a set, they will gain momentum, while our morale will go down.”
Vanguard slid to a 1-4 record, as Vince Abrot’s 22-point explosion went for naught. Razzel Palisoc contributed 10 markers in another loss.