The Instituto Estetico Manila (IEM) Volley Masters found their rhythm late in Game 2 to force a clincher in their Battle for Third match-up against the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls.
The Volley Masters delayed Sta. Elena’s podium finish via a five-set thriller, 22-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 15-13, in the Open Conference of Spikers’ Turf 2016, Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.
However, because of the current tournament format, the Wrecking Balls will automatically get the podium finish if Air Force win the Championship in the second game of the finals against the Cignal HD Spikers.
“It’s okay! Wala naman tayong magagawa. It’s not whether you win the game or not, it’s how you play the game. Kung anuman ‘yung place namin sa conference na ‘to, naniniwala naman akong naibalik ko ‘yung trust nila sa isa’t isa,” said IEM head coach Ernesto Balubar.
After being separated by only two points after the second technical timeout, 16-14, Sta. Elena created a bigger five-point cushion via solid blocking and a quick attack by team captain Rocky Honrade, which they used to take the opening set, 25-22.
Erickson Ramos, usually the libero for IEM, played as open spiker the whole game and scored a total of 11 for the Volley Masters.
“We just responded accordingly [to the type of game na binigay ng kalaban]. Kung larong magulang, edi lagyan mo ng player na magulang din. Ganu’n lang,” said IEM’s head coach.
It was another close set late in the second, 21-18, with IEM leading, when consecutive offensive plays by Arjay Onia cut Sta. Elena’s deficit to one.
Attacks by Greg Dolor, Carl Dela Calzada, and Jason Canlas, however, closed the set for the Volley Masters, 25-22.
Dolor, who was awarded as Tournament MVP and Best Middle Blocker, scored 22 off 16 attacks and six blocks to lead IEM.
Peter Torres, a consistent first-six player for Sta. Elena, came to the Arena late and did not play the first two sets.He only saw action at 19-16 in the third set and was subbed out for Ace Mandani after.
Mandani scored five points in Torres’ stead.
Sta. Elena led by as much as six in the third set, 19-13, a lead which IEM erased with a 9-3 run to tie the game at 22 apiece, capped by back-to-back errors by the Wrecking Balls.
Joven Camaganakan then stopped the bleeding and lifted Sta. Elena with three straight points off a combination attack and two service aces to take the set, 25-23.
Camaganakan led all scorers with 24 off 19 spikes, three blocks, and two service aces in the game.
IEM found their rhythm late in the fourth set and took advantage of an erratic Sta. Elena squad, 20-25, capped by back-to-back quick attacks by Dolor.
“‘Yung kanilang galaw mula nu’ng first set, sakal, pigil, hindi smooth. Pero nu’ng fourth set, gumanda na ‘yung galaw,” said Balubar. “Sabi ko, ‘Ayan na! Ayan na ‘yung hinahanap kong team na nawala. Patunayan niyo na lang ngayon that you can win this game.'”
“Salamat naman at nanalo.”
Tied at 12 apiece in the deciding set, the Volley Masters relied on their blockings and Jason Canlas’ off-the-block attacks to finish the game, 15-13.
Game Three will be on Saturday at the Philsports Arena. Start time will depend on the outcome of the Finals.
IEM (3) – Dolor 22, Jimenez 15, J. Canlas 15, Dela Calzada 14, Ramos 11, Cerilles 1, Refugia 1, Conde 0, Timbal 0, Canlas 0, Lozada (L), Melgar (L)
Sta. Elena (2) – Camaganakan 24, Onia 18, Paglinawan 12, Honrade 8, Mandani 5, Torres 2, Arbasto 2, Frey 1, Abdulwahab 1, Relata 0, Dela Vega 0, Mangaring (L)
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