Coming off a shocking defeat to Champion Supra last Wednesday, the top-ranked Philippine Air Force Airmen bounced back big time to grind out a 25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17 victory over the IEM Volley Masters in the first game of the 2016 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference semifinals at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Air Force’s Howard Mojica pumped in a game-high 21 points, 20 of which came from hits. Bryan Bagunas added 16, while Rodolfo Labrador and Reyson Fuentes contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.
IEM leaned on their middle attacks and got off to a quick start, leading 16-12. However, Air Force launched an 13-7 run off consistent plays and defense.
The Volley Masters tied the set, winning the second frame, 25-23, through Khenno Franco’s quick middle attack and halted the late comeback of the Air Force.
With momentum on their side, Franco helped IEM sustain their energy. However, Bryan Bagunas, who had come off the bench in the second set, scored vital points, including the last three for Air Force in the third set with a support from his teammate Howard Mojica. In the end, IEM were overwhelmed.
The Jet Spikers then vaulted to a insurmountable advantage early on to finish the Volley Masters.
Franco and John Paul Torres led the way for the Volley Masters, with combined markers of 29 points.
Air Force will seek to close the semis series with a win against IEM on Monday, November 7. – by Ezekiel Mendoza
Air Force (3) – Mojica 21, Bagunas 16, Labrador 12, Fuentes 11, Malabanan 8, Alfafara 3, Lopez 2, Inaudito 1, Avila 0, De Ocampo 0, Chavez (L), Mosuela (L).
IEM (1) – Franco 19, Torres 10, Canlas J. 9, Canlas E. 9, Arbasto 8, Valenzuela 4, Zamora 1, Vecina 0, Lozada 0, Molate 0, Ramos (L).