With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the PLDT Power Hitters thrashed the Philippine Coast Guard, 25-4, 25-22, 25-21, to clinch the last quarterfinals berth in Group C of the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena, Tuesday.
“Actually, hindi ito yung [laro nila] eh, survival lang. Kasi kung natalo kami dito out kami eh, tapos before the game… Yung huddle namin, ang sabi ko lang ‘let’s take the game one point at a time, one set at a time’ hanggang sa umabot kami sa goal talaga namin,” said PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon.
Pao Pablico paced the Power Hitters with 11 points on nine attacks, an ace, and a block. Meanwhile, Mark Alfafara tallied five kill blocks for eight markers, to go along with six excellent receptions and four digs.
PLDT skipper John Vic De Guzman – who left the game in the third set after landing badly on his left ankle following a block attempt – finished the match with five markers.
The Power Hitters will have a daunting task in the quarterfinals, as they square off against reigning Open Conference champions Go for Gold-Air Force.
Meanwhile, Esmail Kasim scored 11 points on nine hits, an ace, and a block for Coast Guard, who dropped their card to 1-3.
Also collecting their victories were the Sta. Elena-NU Ball Hammers and the Volleyball Never Stops Volleyball Club Griffins.
Edward Camposano and Nico Almendras conspired in Sta. Elena’s five-set escape act against Philippine Navy, 25-23, 14-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12, to take the top spot in Group D.
Camposano unloaded 20 hits for 22 points. Almendras also tallied 22 markers built on 16 attacks, four blocks, and two aces to complete the Ball Hammers’ 5-0 sweep in the eliminations.
With the victory, Sta. Elena will be armed with a twice-to-beat against IEM in the quarterfinals.
“Nawalan kami ng pasa, nawalan kami ng receive, so set plays namin nawala. Sunud-sunod pati errors, so medyo nawala yung kumpyansa ng mga bata. [Pero] at least, wala kaming talo. Mataas kumpyansa ng mga players namin,” said Sta. Elena head coach Dong Dela Cruz.
Facing a 1-2 set deficit, the Ball Hammers were able to stand their ground and squeeze out the victory in the fourth set to send the match to a decider.
From there, the dynamic duo of Camposano and Almendras took over. Facing an early disadvantage in the final frame, the duo poured nine points combined to give Sta. Elena a 13-11 cushion. Banjo Mondero and Idin Daymil then put the finishing touches on the win.
Mondero contributed 14 points and nine digs, while Daymil added eight markers.
Joshua Retamar dished out 25 excellent sets to lead the offense, while Ricky Marcos manned the defensive end with 16 excellent receptions and nine digs.
Joeven Dela Vega finished the match with 19 points. Team captain Greg Dolor had 11 for Navy, who finished the elimination round at 4-1.
The Sea Lions shall face Group C’s top-seed Perpetual Altas in the next stage.
In the nightcap, Jason Sarabia propelled VNS VC to a four-set victory over the also-ran NCBA, 27-25, 25-22, 27-29, 25-21.
Sarabia led all scorers with 20 points built on 16 attacks and four blocks to help the Griffins end their Open Conference campaign on a winning note, while also finishing third in Group A with a 3-2 standing.
“Actually in this game, gusto ko talaga makalaro lahat ng players ko kasi volleyball club kami, so everyone is here to enjoy and experience yung high level tournament. So gusto ko talaga magamit lahat,” said VNS VC head coach Ralph Ocampo.
French spiker Jeremy Merat scored 18 points founded on 12 hits, five kill blocks, and two aces. Anthony Sioson delivered three aces for 13 markers.
Leading the defense for VNS was Miguel Nasol, ending the match with 17 excellent receptions and 15 digs.
On the other hand, Daryl Valenzuela scored 17 points while Baden Pabalate had 15 for NCBA, who finished the tourney winless with a 0-5 slate.