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PLDT powers through Air Force in four sets



The PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters showed grit and determination, surviving a gruelling fourth set to come away with the win against the Philippine Air Force Air Spikers, 25-23, 25-27, 25-19, 32-30, Sunday morning at the FilOil Flying V Arena, San Juan city.

It was a tight opening set with neither team able to gain a significant lead. As the scored tied halfway through the set, PLDT burst to a 3-0 run capped by an Edwin Tolentino error. From that moment, the Air Spikers tried to mount numerous comeback attempts, getting to within a single point multiple times. However, the Ultra Fast Hitters were able to fend off the charge every time. With the score at 24-23, a Galang kill ended the set in favor of PLDT.

Air Force regained their composure at the start of the second set. They jumped to a 5-1 advantage, sparked by Ruben Inaudito, who scored three of his 14 points in the run. However, PLDT was able to battle back and tie the set at 10-all. Neither team had a chance to pull away, with PLDT gaining a slim lead numerous times; only for Air Force to quickly react and tie the set every time. Tied at 25-all, Air Force was finally able to gain the edge and take the set, scoring back-to-back points via a PLDT error and an Inaudito tip in.

The third set started just as the second ended, with both teams struggling to take a significant advantage. Tied at 3-all, PLDT went on a 8-1 run. This spurt wasn’t sparked by any PLDT player, but by the numerous errors of the Air Spikers. Out of the eight points in the run, half of those were incurred by attack errors from the Air Force. The Air Spikers were unable to recover from that gaff, as the Ultra Fast Hitters easily took the third set.

Air Force seemed poised to take the fourth set, as they jumped into a quick 5-2 run. They managed to stave off the PLDT comeback momentarily, clinging to a 13-10 lead almost halfway through the set. PLDT didn’t give up and fought back to tie the set at 15-all, even taking a temporary lead thanks to a James Pecaña crosscourt attack. From there it became a virtual two-man show for PLDT, with Jayson Ramos and Pecaña leading the way, with cheers of “butanding!” or “black mamba!” when either of them scored. Tied at 29, Tolentino scored with a down the line attack to give Air Force the advantage, but a down the line Ramos spike and a Pecaña service ace gave PLDT the lead for good. Former UST Tiger Mark Alfafara ended the game for PLDT with a powerful spike off the blocker that went sailing out of bounds.

PLDT Home Ultera outscored Air Force in every scoring skill, scoring more via spikes (69-62), blocks (11-9), and service aces (3-2). Air Force, however, was able to limit their errors with 24, compared to PLDT’s 26.

PLDT Home Ultera will go against IEM to end their elimination round games on Tuesday, May 12, while Air Force will face Fourbees-Cavite on the same day.

The Scores:

PLDT (3) – Ramos 15, Alfafara 14, Pecaña 14, Franco 13, Torres 11, Galang 10, De Guzman 4, Casillan 2, Longavela (L)

Air Force (1) – Tolentino 21, Malabanan 16, Inaudito 14, Alinsunurin 11, Esteban 9, Masahud 2, Mosuela (L)

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