Iloilo protected its unscathed slate by toppling Philippine Army in four sets, 17-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-18, in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Sunday triple-header at the Paco Arena in Manila.
National team pool member Jade Disquitado led the D’Navigators anew with 19 points, 18 off attacks, while Jerome Cordez backed him up with 14 points.
Setter JM Apolinario steered Iloilo with 27 excellent sets to go with two blocks, while Neil De Pedro flaunted his overall skills with nine points and 14 excellent receptions.
The Troopers dominated the first set with Kevin Liberato, Mark Enciso, and Benjaylo Labide taking charge for a 25-17 opener.
“Sabi ko lang sa kanila kulang kayo sa trabaho. Magtrabaho kayo nang maayos, gawin niyo ang part niyo. Hindi pwedeng ganito kasi matatalo tayo kapag ganyan kayo. Buti nakikinig sila,” said D’Navigators head coach John Kenneth Panes on what transpired after the first frame.
Iloilo answered Panes’ call with a 25-20 second before eking out a 26-24 third, thanks to clutch hits by Cordez and middle blocker Nas Gwaza.
Then it was all D’Navigators in the fourth as Rash Nursiddik, Disquitado, and Cordez finished the job in the lopsided clincher.
Iloilo rose to 4-0 atop the league standings over idle Cotabato and Cignal, while Army went down to 2-2, still at fifth in the 11-team field.
“Ang job natin hindi pa tapos, marami pa tayong room for improvement, hindi pwedeng makampante. Kailangan pa nating magtrabaho dahil marami pa tayong remaining games,” Panes on his daily reminder to his wards.
Liberato had 19 points in the losing effort while Labide got 13 points. PJ Rojas and Enciso each dropped 10 points with the former adding nine excellent receptions.
The Troopers will look to bounce back on Friday against hapless Santa Rosa at 5:30 pm. Meanwhile, Iloilo will have two weeks of rest due to Disquitado being part of the national team that will go to Taiwan for a 10-day training camp.
The D’Navigators return on March 1 against PGJC-Navy.