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IEM rallies back against Bounty Fresh to clinch F4 berth

The Instituto Estetico Manila Volley Masters pulled off a solid comeback against the Bounty Fresh Soaring Griffins, 20-25, 25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 15-13, to continue their win streak in the Open Conference of the Spikers’ Turf Season 2, Wednesday, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

IEM clawed their way back from a two-set hole and shocked Bounty Fresh in the fifth set, led by Greg Dolor’s 21 markers, 16 coming from attacks and four from blocks, and team captain Edan Canlas’ 13.

The Volley Masters started the game on a positive note, confusing the defense of IEM with their top scorers Romnick Rico and Jeric Gacutan, who scored a total of 18 and 19, respectively.

“Masyadong kaming nagrely sa opensa (sa first two sets),” said IEM head coach Ernesto Balubar. “Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘If you want to snatch the game, play defense.'”

Sure enough, IEM displayed firm floor defense led by libero Joseph Ramos, who had a total of 18 excellent digs.

The Volley Masters were also down by three in the final set, 7-10, but errors by Gacutan and Philip Bagalay and perfectly-placed powertips by IEM’s Greg Dolor saved the day.

The win also assured IEM of a semifinals spot in the conference.

“Wala pa [kaming] napapatunayan. Sa ngayon, I want to be conservative. Ayokong mag-predict kung hanggang saan ang kaya ng IEM. Ang acid test ay Cignal and Air Force,” said Balubar.

The still unscathed IEM (3-0) will next face Cignal (3-0) on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, while the winless Bounty Fresh (0-3) will face Sta. Elena (1-2) on Saturday at the Blue Eagle Gym.

The Scores:

IEM (3) – Dolor 21, Canlas 13, Gatdula 12, Conde 10, Pirante 7, Canlas 2, Dela Calzada 1, Lozada 1, Jimenez 1, Refugia 1, Cerilles 0, Timbal 0, Ramos (L)

Bounty Fresh (2) – Gacutan 19, Rico 18, Sarabia 12, Bagalay 10, David 5, Ortega 4, Ocampo 1, Sioson 1, Apostol 0, Apelar (L), Bauto (L)

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