By: Ohmer Bautista
In a battle between the two undefeated teams in the quarterfinals, the Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers snagged the top spot at the expense of PLDT Home Fibr Fast Hitters, 25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23, in the Philippine Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Quarterfinals at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Both team is capable kung sino manalo. It’s a matter kung sino yung buenas at kung sino eager manalo,” Air Force head coach Rhovyl Verayo said. “Napabor sa’min, nanalo kami kaya masaya kami.”
Taking a 2-1 set lead, the Jet Spikers started the fourth set strong, mounting a four point lead, 16-12. However, PLDT mustered a 5-2 spurt to trim the deficit down to a solitary point, 17-18, urging coach Verayo to sue for time. After the timeout, the momentum shifted back to Air Force.
“Relax lang,” he reminded. “Dahan-dahan tayo, tayo pa naman lamang, makukuha rin natin yan. Kung ano ginawa natin ng practice, lalo pa ‘to, sa end game na, kailangan ma-overcome natin yung mga lapses natin.”
Air Force then went back to their aggressive ways, but PLDT showed grit, tying things up, 23-all. However, a Ranran Abdilla off-the-block hit and a two-man-block iced the game for good.
Bryan Bagunas topbilled with 26 points built on 22 spikes, 3 blocks, and an ace. Abdilla and Ismail Fauzi added 15 and 12 markers respectively.
PLDT skipper John Vic De Guzman scored 24 points in a losing effort.
Though they came out on top, coach Verayo also noted on the aspects that they have to improve on as their season progresses.
“Depensa sa likod at more on receive talaga. Minsan pag nawawala kami ng receive, dun nagkagulo gulo na,” said Verayo.
With the win, Air Force improve to 3-0, enough to face the second seed in the conference, Vice Co., in the semifinals. On the other hand, PLDT sport a 2-1 win-lose card. They will take on sister team Cignal.
PAF (3) – Bagunas 26, Abdilla 15, Ismail 12, Malabanan 8, Fuentes 6, Lopez 0, Tolentino 0, De Ocampo 0, Mangaring (L).
PLDT (1) – De Guzman 24, Pecana 17, Sumagaysay 6, Alfafara 6, Umandal 5, Orian 1, Villegas 1, Franco 1, Vecina 0, Dela Vega 0, Melgar (L), Longavela (L).