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PLDT secures Spikers’ Turf bronze



Salvaging their roller-coaster season, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters claimed third place in the Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference, sweeping their best-of-three series with the Philippine Navy Sailors in Game Two, 31-29, 20-25, 25-21, 25-15, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City early Wednesday afternoon.

PLDT continued their season-long struggle in limiting their errors, coughing up a tournament-high 38 errors to Navy’s 28. The Ultra Fast Hitters, however, too refuge in their high-powered offense, out-classing the Sailors in scoring skills (54-44 in attacks, 31-8 in block kills, 6-0 in service aces).

Having built a 15-11 lead midway through the opening set, PLDT suddenly collapsed and let Navy drag the set into a deuce. Although PLDT eventually won the first frame, Navy had gathered enough momentum and easily nicked PLDT in the second set through smart blocking and floor defense.

After a spirited talk with head coach Odjie Mamon post-second set, PLDT regained form, thoroughly drubbing Navy in the last two sets to secure bronze. “It was hard to get them (PLDT players) to concentrate – parang masyado silang complacent. Kaya talagang kinausap ko sila and really tried to get them to focus on the match. Our errors were a big problem – it’s something we really need to work on,” said coach Odjie, who jokingly added that third is better than second since his team ended the season with a win.

Crowned with his second Spikers’ Turf MVP award before Game One last week, Mark Alfafara led PLDT with 21 points off 19 attacks and two blocks. Middle blocker Kheeno Franco and opposite hitter Henry Pecaña each contributed 13 markers, while former UAAP Finals MVP Peter Torres logged 12 markers.

PLDT stumbled early in the tournament, surrendering early losses to the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls and the Cignal HD Spikers. Their 3-2 record relegated them to the third seed, setting up their epic five-set loss to a resilient Air Force Air Spikers side. PLDT were the first-ever champion of the Spikers’ Turf, claiming their Open Conference title last July.

Razzel Palisoc led Navy with 17 points, while Wilbert Sapida added 12. Navy squeaked into the semis, winning a do-or-die tilt with the IEM Volley Masters. They bowed down quickly to Cignal in their semifinal match.

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 21, Franco 13, Pecaña 13, Torres P. 12, Galang 10, Casillan 3, Torres J. 1, Mangulabnan 0, Paglinawan 0, Mangaring (L), Longavela (L)

Navy (1) – Palisoc 17, Sapida 12, Madsari 7, Cacayuran 5, Rusit 5, Senisan 4, Junio 1, Kasim 1, Tipay (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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