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Loaded PLDT overwhelms IEM in four sets; secures Top Four spot

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Exploiting their incredible depth at all positions, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters quelled an unusually feisty IEM Volley Masters in four sets 25-23, 26-28, 25-28, 25-20 in their final match of the preliminary phase of the inaugural Spikers’ Turf season at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

PLDT Head Coach, Odjie Mamon, fielded all of his players against the league’s cellar-dwellers, IEM. One of the many former UST Tigers on the team, Mark Alfafara, led all Ultra Fast Hitters in scoring with 14 points off just 22 attempts in three sets of action. EARIST standout and National Team stalwart, Kheeno Franco, was devastating with his combination of quick and running attacks, finishing with 13 points on just 21 attack attempts. Adamson product, Ron Jay Galang, paced his team with 11 markers while Benilde product John Vic De Guzman contributed 10 markers in PLDT’s fifth win in seven matches.

Former FEU Tamaraw, Karl Dela Calzada topped the winless Volley Masters with 19 points on 39 attack attempts and three blocks. Michael Iam Conde contributed 16 markers while Jeffrey Jimenez put out 13 markes.

IEM was unusually frisky in the first two sets as their attacking and blocking worked better than usual against a incredibly athletic PLDT team. However, according to Coach Mamon, this was most likely a result of complacency as his team was comfortably moving on to the Top Four regardless the match’s result.

“The game became more like a learning game for us. Wala na kaming ginawang masyadong conditioning. We worked more on reviewing our patterns for the following games,” the UST Men’s Head Coach said. “Nakaka-frustrate lang ‘yung second set, but I thought the team made up for it in the following sets.”

IEM, the champion of last season’s V-League Men’s Volleyball Tournament, failed to record a single win in seven trys.

PLDT is safely in the Top Four along with Cagayan, and the Philppine Air Force. The winner of the Cignal-Champion Infinity tiff will earn the last Top Four slot.

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 14, Franco 13, Galang 11, De Guzman 10, Torres 8, Malleon 6, Ramos 3, Mojica 3, Pecaña 2, Mangulabnan 1, Ilano 0, Mangaring 0, Longavela (L)

IEM (1) – Dela Calzada 19, Conde 16, Jimenez 13, Raymundo 7, Canlas 5, Cerilles 3, Banang 2, Cabatingan 2, Tamayo 1, Bacolod 0, Timbal 0, Almario (L)

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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