MEN’S VOLLEYBALL: PLDT spikers outlast Airmen, seals semis playoff
9 a.m. – Cavite vs Air Force
2 p.m. – PLDT vs IEM
6 p.m. – Cignal vs Champion
Cagayan Valley 6 1
PLDT Home Ultera 4 2
Army 4 3
Champion Infinity 3 2
Air Force 3 3
Cignal 3 3
Fourbees-Cavite 1 5
IEM 0 6
PLDT Home Ultera wore down Air Force in a grueling fourth set battle and carved out a 25-23, 25-27, 25-19, 32-30 victory to assure itself of a playoff for the last semifinal berth in the Spikers’ Turf Season 1 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan Sunday.
Six players churned out double-digit scores for the Ultra Fast Hitters with Jayson Ramos firing 15 hits and Mark Alfafara and James Peca-A backing him up with 14 markers each. Kheeno Franco added 13 points and Paul Torres and Ron Galang chipped in 11 and 10 hits, respectively, for PLDT, which needed to toughen up in the fourth to foil the hard-fighting Airmen in 1:44.
The victory was PLDT’s fourth against two losses but still needs to prevail over winless Instituto Estetico Manila at the close of the single round elims tomorrow to formalize its stint in the Final Four of the inaugural league presented by PLDT Home Ultera and backed by Mikasa.
Despite the loss, its third against the same number of wins in a tie with Cignal, Air Force remains in the race for the last semis slot but the Airmen must win over ousted Fourbees-Cavite Tuesday to force a playoff with Army, which closed out with a 4-3 card.
Champion Infinity, the other team in the hunt for a semis seat at 3-2, is playing Cavite at presstime and will tangle with Cignal in a make-or-break match, also Tuesday.
Edwin Tolentino unloaded 21 hits while Jeffrey Malabanan shot 16 points for Air Force, which also drew a combined 34-hit output from Ruben Inaudito, skipper Dante Alinsunurin and Clarence Esteban but lost its poise in a back-and-forth duel in the fourth.
Except for PLDT’s third set romp, the match was close throughout with both teams splitting the first two frames via two-hit wins. But the Ultra Fast Hitters held their ground in the fourth and outlasted the Airmen to hack out the all-important win.
Meanwhile, the PLDT-Air Force game will be shown at 10:30 tonight over PTV 4 with the Champion-Cavite clash aired tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
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