The Philippine Army Troopers halted their alarming three-match slide just at the right time, conquering the IEM Phoenix Volley Masters 25-16, 21-25, 25-15, 25-23 to enter the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference semifinals at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Winning their first two matches of the season, Army crumbled in their next three assignments. Still, the Troopers caught a break in the standings that kept them in the hunt for the last semis spot.
“Naging mahirap kasi nagkulang talaga kami sa ensayo. May mga civilian players kami na nag-aaral pa. Naiintindihan namin ‘yun, pero mahirap din talaga kapag anim lang kayo sa ensayo,” lamented Army head coach Rico De Guzman.
“‘Yung pinakita namin kanina resula ‘yun ng paghahanda namin. May mga kailangan pa ayusin pero sana tuloy-tuloy na kami sa ganitong takbo,” he added.
Among the civilian players De Guzman mentioned, UST standout Anthony Arbasto starred for Army with 17 points after a string of lackluster performances. Fellow Thomasian Romnick Rico added 15 markers.
While the Troopers still struggled to contain their errors, tallying 38 in total and leading to a loss in the second set, they overwhelmed IEM everywhere else on offense. As IEM struggled to receive, Army managed 56 spikes to IEM’s 35 and nine blocks to IEM’s three.
The Troopers will face top-seeded Air Force on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre to start their best-of-three series.
Greg Dolor continued to lead the Volley Masters but had just 11 points, reflecting IEM’s offensive plight.
Army (3) – Arbasto 17, Rico 15, Labide 11, Sumagaysay 10, Torres 7, Tajanlangit 6, Reyes 4, Abdulmajid 0, Depamaylo 0, Uy (L).
IEM (1) – Dolor 11, Guanzon 8, Valenzuela 8, Canlas 4, Presnede 3, Ordonez 3, Arroyo 2, Gatdula 1, Timbal 1, Cerilles 0, Melgar (L).