Refusing to suffer a bitter end to their 2019 PVL Open Conference campaign, Air Force pounced on the absence of Jovelyn Gonzaga, slamming PacificTown-Army , 28-26, 25-20, 26-28, 26-24, Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
“Minotivate ko sila na hindi tayo pwede matalo. Wala ‘yung isang pamato nila diyan, si Jovelyn. Tsaka ito ‘yung time na pagkakataon natin makabawi sa kanila dahil tinalo kami sa [Armed Forces of the Philippine] Olympics, sila nag-champion,” said Air Force head coach Jasper Jimenez, as his side end its campaign in fifth with a 7-9 slate following a statement win over AFP rivals. “Itong (PVL) game, kahit placing na lang, pride pa rin. Kailangan natin manalo dito.”
Down by a solitary point, 17-18, Judy Ann Caballejo and Joy Cases took turns in punishing the opposition, mounting a 21-18 advantage. But while Air Force looked poised to shift into cruise control with momentum on its side, Honey Royse Tubino heated up. She fired three consecutive attacks that tied things up at 21.
A trade of blows then ensued, as the match swung to a two-to-win situation. Wendy Semana delivered a quick-witted dump to buoy Air Force to match point, before Pantino pummeled the lethal cross court hit.
Caballejo and Dell Palomata towered over PacificTown-Army, hammering down 15 points apiece, all coming from attacks.
Cases supplied 13 markers. Pantino had a triple-double performance of 10 points, 20 excellent receptions, and 25 excellent digs.
Air Force playmaker Semana tossed 19 excellent sets for the Lady Jet Spikers, who out-gunned PacificTown-Army, 59-55. She also tallied eight points anchored on three service aces.
Knotted at 23 in the decisive third frame, Angela Nunag nailed a quick-witted push and pushed PacificTown-Army at set point. But Tubino muffed a service attempt, forcing a deuce and inciting a series of deadlocks. Nene Bautista then delivered the momentum-swinging off the block hit, before Ging Balse-Pabayo denied Palomata to give the Lady Troopers a lease on life.
Tubino led PacificTown-Army with 14 points. Meanwhile, Bautista and Jem Guttierez chimed in 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Joanne Bunag had 10 points and 21 excellent digs, providing an all-around outing in lieu of Gonzaga — who is set to join the Nationals in Japan with PacificTown-Army head coach Kungfu Reyes. Nunag manned the floor with 19 excellent receptions and 17 excellent digs.
The Lady Troopers could not snap out of their funk down the stretch of the conference, dropping their six previous matches and ending their campaign with a 6-10 card at sixth place.