Army-Katinko stayed alive in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference playoff hunt, grabbing its first win at the expense of Santa Rosa City in a five-setter, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 17-25, 15-6, Thursday at the Paco Arena.
Though difficult, the Troopers still have a chance at 1-4, tied with the Lions at the bottom of the seven-team field.
The veteran wits and experience of Army-Katinko, led by Madz Gampong and Ben Labide, showed up in the fifth set. They then cruised to an easy 15-6 win.
“No mercy. Natalo kami ng Ateneo-Fudgee Barr, sabi ko sa kanila no mercy na ito kasi do-or-die,” said Troopers head coach Melvin Carolino. He was recalling their four-set loss to the Blue Eagles last Saturday.
“Fifth set nag-less service error kami, tapos gumanda ‘yung receive saka blockings. Kaya sabi ko mananalo na kami.”
Antonio Torres’ quick kill finished off Army-Katinko’s blistering 6-2 rally to take the first frame, 25-21.
A 7-3 blast by Santa Rosa turned an 18-19 deficit to a 25-22 equalizer in the second canto, punctuated by a service error of Joshua Barrica. Barrica had just come in to replace PJ Rojas at the service line.
Ahead 22-20 in the third period, Labide and Kris Silang connived on a 3-1 spurt to move a set away from the Troopers’ first victory, 25-21.
But the young Lions dropped a 16-7 opener in the fourth, on the way to a 25-17 scoreline to stretch the match to a deciding fifth set.
Gampong filled the stat sheet with 22 points scattered through 13 attacks, seven kill blocks, and two aces laced with 12 digs.
Labide added 20 points of his own, while Rojas chimed in 12 points and 14 excellent receptions.
The Lions were led by Jade Disquitado anew with 22 points. Middle blockers Dave Lardizabal and Sean Labrador had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Santa Rosa will open the last day of elimination round on Tuesday at 11:30 AM against PGJC-Navy. Meanwhile, Army-Katinko will be the middle game in a rare triple-header, facing VNS-One Alicia at 2:30 PM.