Down 0-2 early in the match, the Champion Infinity Active Smashers, dragged themselves out of the grave, and claimed a five-set classic victory against the Army Troopers 20-25, 23-25, 25-19, 28-26, 15-13 in the elimination round of the inaugural season of the Spiker’s Turf, at the San Juan Arena.
La Sallian, Michael Antonio, dug deep and delivered 12 of his 17 points in the final three sets if the match. Team captain, Rocky Honrade contributed with high energy, finishing with 13 points on a 10 for 17 attacking clip.
The first two sets were marred with Champion’s errors. They started the match giving up four consecutive service aces that buried them for the rest of the set. Army was again well on its way to claiming the second set handily, as they were up 22-19 late. After being denied a timeout, Honrade suddenly combusted, firing loaded serves after scoring off a quick attack. Champion trimmed the lead down to as much as one, with the score at 23-22, but Army’s PJ Rojas and John Depamaylo scored off back-to-back attacks to seal a decisive 2-0 set lead for Army.
Honrade’s outburst of energy infected the previously anemic play of the rest of his team, and seemingly caught Army by surprise. Champion bombarded Army with attacks, which lead them to take the third set handily, and were on the brink of getting the fourth set in the same fashion. However, a late outburst from Army’s Greg Dolor and Benjaylo Labide sent the set to deuce. Army received two set points during the deuce, but they were unable to bring the match home, due to attack errors. An open hit from Alnasip Laja, followed by an attack error from Army’s Greg Dolor sent the match into a deciding fifth set.
Champion immediately grabbed hold of the lead after a Honrade block gave them a 4-1 advantage in the fifth set. Army climbed all the way back to take the lead at 13-11. From there, the Active Smashers held tight as Army crumbled , giving up two errors and an ace. Antonio closed the match with a running attack.
Both teams now stand with a 1-1 slate. While Army will go against Cavite on April 14, Champion looks to get their second win when they face Air Force on April 19.
Champion (3) – Antonio 17, Honrade 13, Espiritu 10, Mandani 10, Laja 9, Camaganakan 7, Molate 5, Relata 3, Abdulawahab 1, Tonquin 1, Gomez 0, Hu (L), Banaga (L)
Army (2) – Labide 16, Rojas 16, Dolor 12, Depamaylo J. 11, Torres 11, Abdulmahid 5, Refugia 3, Villonson 1, Oxciano 1, Depamaylo N. 0, Reyes 0, Uy (L), Bayking (L)