The Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers showed mastery over the exiting Iriga City Lady Oragons in straight sets, 25-23, 25-17, 25-18, in their penultimate elimination round game of the the Shakey’s V League Season 13 Open Conference, Wednesday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The win sealed Air Force’s semi-finals berth, but head coach Jasper Jimenez said he still wants to see more from his team.
“Kailangan pa rin mag-step up, kasi kung ganu’n ang nilalaro namin, ‘yung ine-aim namin na championship ay hindi namin maabot,” said Jimenez.
The Oragons gave the Jet Spikers an early scare to open the game, staying within striking distance and eventually grabbing the lead, 23-22. However, they failed to close the set after a service error by setter Shyrra Cabriana, followed by back-to-back aces by Judy Ann Caballejo.
It was a sloppy first set for both sides, with Iriga committing 10 unforced errors, and Air Force giving up eight.
The Jet Spikers committed even more giveaways, with nine in the second set compared to Iriga’s eight, but Air Force had control of the tempo and were the more aggressive team with 15 successful attacks, eight more than their opponents.
The Palomata-less Air Force side never gave up the lead in the second and finished the set, 25-17, closed by back-to-back Caballejo attacks.
Coach Jimenez used his second stringers to fill in the hole left by Dell Palomata.
“Pinagbigyan ko naman ‘yung mga second stringer ko para magka-kumpiyansa sa next game namin,” he said.
Caballejo led the Jet Spikers in scoring, with a total of 14 with 10 attacks, two blocks, and two service aces, while Shola Alvarez was the top scorer for Iriga with 10 markers, all from spikes.
The younger Iriga squad once again gave Air Force a scare early in the final set, tying the game at 10-apiece and trailing by only two, 15-17. The Jet Spikers were quick to respond with an 8-3 run to grab the set at 25-18.
With the loss, the Iriga Oragons concluded their conference with a 1-6 standing, with their lone win coming against Baguio.
On the other hand, Air Force (5-1) will face the conference-leading Pocari Sweat (5-0) in their final game of the eliminations on Monday at the Philsports Arena.
Air Force (3) – Caballejo 14, Tapic 10, Pantino 7, Manzano 6, Yongco 5, Cases 5, Antipuesto 5, Papa 1, Semana 0, Abanto 0, Crisostomo (L), Balmaceda (L)
Iriga (0) – Alvarez 10, Bombita 7, Eniong 5, Levina 3, Cabriana 2, Bombita A. 1, Guab 1, Lana 0, Co 0, Alfelor-Gazmen 0, Baral 0, Pacino (L)