By: Ohmer Bautista
The Philippine Army Troopers eluded a meltdown to salvage a win at the expense of IEM Phoenix Volley Masters, 25-18, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 16-14, to end their season on a high note in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Quarterfinals at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Talagang underdog ‘yung team ko,” Army head coach Rico de Guzman expressed. “Kahit maliit ang mga ‘yan, hindi kami sumusuko.
“Masaya ako kasi kahit papaano, ‘yung last game namin, nanalo kami,” he added.
The Troopers took the first set convincingly, then fought tooth-and-nail in the ensuing one to bury the Volley Masters in a 0-2 disadvantage.
IEM, however, started the third set with renewed vigor, extending the game to a fourth set.
Knotted at 25-all in the nip-and-tuck fourth frame, a Eden Canlas off-the-block hit before a costly PJ Rojas attack that sailed wide forged a decisive fifth set.
Riding on the momentum in the final set, IEM planted a seven-point gap, 10-3. But Army remain composed as they uncorked a 9-2 blitz to tie things up, 12-all.
After trading points, 14-all, a Joshua Barrica off-the-block hit and and a Canlas error sealed the game for good.
Army had four troopers in double figures with Rojas leading the way with 16. Benjaylo Labide, Jaidal Abdulmajid, and Antonio Torres added 15, 12, and 11 markers respectively.
IEM skipper Greg Dolor notched 14. While Canlas and Rudy Gatdula added 10 apiece.
Both Army and IEM will now officially exit the tournament with a 1-2 and 0-3 record, respectively.
Army (3) – Rojas 16, Labide 15, Abdulmajid 12, Torres 11, Baloaloa 9, Reyes 9, Ramirez 7, Depamaylo J. 4, Barrica 3, Villonson 0, Bayking 0, Depamaylo N. 0, Uy (L).
IEM (2) – Dolor 14, Canlas 10, Gatdula 10, Conde 6, Presnede 5, Macalma 5, Sapida 5, Castel 3, Timbal 2, Enciso 2, Arroyo 0, Almario (L).