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Army rallies back to claim opening day win over IEM

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The Philippine Army Troopers put their stamp on the historic first day of the Premier Volleyball League, taking the first win of the rebranded league at the expense of the IEM Phoenix Volley Masters, 25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 21-25, 16-14, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After a blazing first set, the Troopers fell off a cliff in the following two sets and fell in danger of a disappointing first day loss. Army head coach Rico De Guzman had to rally his players to sue for a comeback.

“Wala namang mawawala sa amin, manalo o matalo. Sabi ko, tiygain lang nila,” said De Guzman. “Simple lang naman, tapatan lang nila ‘yung tao nila. Hindi naman kailangan gawing komplikado.”

Army responded by blitzing their foes in the fourth set to force a decider. In a tight fifth set, the Troopers came back late, using a 3-0 run to take a 14-13 lead. Michael Reyes and Jayvee Sumagaysay put the finishing touches on the following deuce.

Skipper Benjaylo Labide led Army with 19 points. The University of Santo Tomas’ Sumagaysay and Anthony Arbasto managed 14 and 12, respectively.

Army kicked off the heated Men’s Division tournament, which includes powerhouses Cignal and Air Force.

Far Eastern University standout Greg Dolor powered Phoenix with 17 points, while Lyceum’s open hitter Presnede added 14.

Army will face Café Lupo on May 6, while IEM take on Cignal on May 4. Both matches will be at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

Army (3) – Labide 19, Sumagaysay 14, Arbasto 12, Rico 11, Tajanlangit 6, Delos Reyes 4, Reyes 4, Torres 3, Uy (L)

IEM (2) – Dolor 17, Presnede 14, Valenzuela 11, Canlas 10, Gatdula B. 5, Gatdula R. 4, Guanzon 4, Arroyo 2, Ordoñez 1, Cerilles 0, Conde 0, Melgar (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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