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Abdilla-less Air Force continues roll, drops Sta. Elena

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Even without ace spiker Ranran Abdilla, the Philippine Air Force Airmen cruised through the match against the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls 26-24, 25-22, 25-20, remaining undefeated in the Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

With Abdilla nursing a knee injury, the Airmen shuffled their lineup, with some players operating out of position. The first set saw the Airmen working out the kinks in their new starting six, trading errors with the Wrecking Balls after the match kicked off. Sta. Elena’s constant shuffling of players kept offensive pressure on the Airmen and earned them a deuce; however, Sta. Elena’s own errors did them in and gave Air Force the first set.

Air Force’s offense picked up in the second set, building an early lead and preventing Sta. Elena from trimming it. The Airmen then locked gears in the third set and handily ended the match.

Ben Inaudito, who moved from opposite hitter to open spiker, topped all scorers with 14 markers off 11 attacks, two blocks, and an ace. His former NU teammate, Reyson Fuentes, unleashed multiple running kills that earned him 11 points. Air Force veterans Jeffry Malabanan and Rodolfo Labrador each contributed nine points.

“Kahit naman sa ibang posisyon ko ilagay ‘yung iba kong player, gagawa pa din yan. Beterano na yan e, ‘yung iba kakagaling lang sa college kaya alam na nila kung ano kailangan nila gawin para manalo,” said Air Force head coach Rhovyl Verayo who also explained that Abdilla might not play this season depending on the results of his MRI.

Joven Camaganakan was the only Wrecking Ball in the double digits with 11 points. His fellow open hitter, Alnasip Laja, provided eight points.

The Airmen improved to a perfect 4-0 slate while Sta. Elena dropped to 1-3.

Air Force next stake their unbeaten record against a determined PLDT Home Ultera side on Sunday, November 8 at the San Juan Arena. Sta. Elena will end their elimination round against the winless IEM on Saturday, November 7 also at the San Juan Arena.

The Scores

PAF (3) – Inaudito 14, Fuentes 11, Labrador 9, Malabanan 9, Balse 4, Jeruz 3, Abria 1, Lopez 1, De Ocampo 1, Tolentino 0, Avila 0, Tajanlangit (L), Mosuela (L)

Sta. Elena (0) – Camaganakan 11, Laja 8, Antonio 6, Mandani 4, Honrade 4, Onia 4, Macalma 3, Arbasto 1, Molate 1, Asia 0, Espiritu 0, Hu (L), Lozada (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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