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Spikers Turf: Austria the hero vs Iloilo as Imus-ITP picks up 5-set win


Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography outdueled Iloilo in a battle of power, blocking, digs, and guts in the decider and carved out a big 25-16, 23-25, 25-14, 22-25, 16-14 decision to enhance its semifinal drive in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila on Wednesday evening.

Hero Austria lived up to his name, delivering the hits that mattered most in the fifth as the AJAA Spikers outfoxed the D’Navigators in a back-and-forth, tense-filled encounter to pound the victory, their sixth against three losses.

More importantly, Imus halted Iloilo’s six-game run as the former stymied the latter’s own bid to close in on the second semis seat, leaving first semifinalist Cignal the only unbeaten squad in the 11-team cast.

Iloilo though held on to second spot while Imus firmed up its hold of No. 3 and Cotabato stayed at fourth with a 5-1 card.

“Sobrang challenging, kasi may tendency kami talagang mag-relax pag nakakakuha ng set,” said Austria, who finished with 19 points.

Truly, the AJAA Spikers couldn’t sustain their big romps in the first two odd-numbered sets, enabling the D’Navigators to force a decider anchored on Jade Disquitado’s imposing game late in the fourth that saw him score three straight vicious kills to extend the match.

But the D’Navigators struggled in transition, particularly after Disquitado rotated at the back although they kept it close all throughout that set the stage for a thriller of a finish.

It was so close and so precise were the AJAA Spikers and the D’Navigators that they yielded just one error each in the last frame.

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Kim Malabunga backed up Austria with a solid 18-point performance, including 14 kills, while Ridzuam Muhali and Ronniel Rosales produced 14 points apiece and Francis Saura added 11 markers that more than underscored Imus’ balanced scoring.

That also put to naught Disquitado’s fiery 32-point performance and Jerome Crodez, Mfena Gwaza and Neil de Pedro’s combined 34-point output.

“It’s a nice game, nakaka-excite, Iloilo is a good team, and has this power of floor defense. So I told my setter (Ish Polvorosa) to create set plays that would baffle the D’Navigators, especially their blocking and floor defense,” said Imus coach Sammy Acaylar.

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