The erstwhile-winless Philippine Army Troopers barged into the win column with a huge upset win over the Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-27, 15-12, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Batangas City Coliseum.
The Troopers, who dropped their first two matches, gutted out a tight encounter with their Armed Forces bretheren. Army, like in the first four sets, ground out the fourth set up to a back-and-forth finish. With Air Force piling up errors, the Troopers settled into a deuce thanks to quick setting from Nico Ramirez. An error on a quick hit attempt, however, sent the match into a decider after Joel Villonson flubbed his attempt.
Army controlled most of the fifth set, grabbing an early 8-5 lead following an Air Force error. The Jet Spikers mounted a comeback, tying the set at 8 before Army sealed the match. Ramirez came up clutch at the service line, guiding the Troopers to an 11-8 lead. Open hitter Benjaylo Labide then kept Army ahead in the following points, converting each sideout chance for the Troopers.
Knowing that Air Force had the larger artillery, Army head coach Rico De Guzman urged his players to show some heart.
“Sabi ko sa kanila before the game na it doesn’t matter kung matalo tayo o manalo, basta gawin natin ‘yung gameplan natin,” De Guzman shared.
“Matalo na tayo sa lahat, huwag lang sa Army,” the enlisted Army personnel quipped.
Labide finished with 20 points, while Ramirez tossed 22 excellent sets to go with 11 points, six of which came off aces. Army pulled their advantage from the serve, tallying 12 aces to Air Force’s one.
Tawi-Tawi natives Fauzi Ismail and Ranran Abdilla each provided 24 points for the Jet Spikers.
Army (1-2) will to build on their first win when they face PLDT (0-2) on May 26. The Jet Spikers (1-1) take on Cignal (1-0) on May 27.
Army (3) – Labide 20, Depamaylo J. 12, Ramirez 11, Rojas 11, Torres 9, Villonson 8, Reyes 4, Abdulmajid 1, Baloaloa 1, Bayking 0, Depamaylo N. 0, Uy (L)
Air Force (2) – Abdilla 24, Ismail 24, Fuentes 8, Inaudito 8, Malabanan 6, De Ocampo 2, Mojica 2, Dimaculangan 0, Mangaring (L)