9 a.m. – Army vs Cignal
5 p.m. – Air Force vs Champion
Cagayan 4 0
PLDT 2 1
Army 2 1
Champion 1 1
Air Force 1 1
Cignal 1 2
Instituto 0 2
Cavite 0 3
Cagayan Valley rebounded from a third set setback and out-steadied Air Force in a fiercely-fought fourth set duel, carving out a 25-16, 25-22, 21-25, 26-24 victory to close in on the first semifinal berth in the Spikers’ Turf Season I Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan Thursday.
UAAP MVP Marck Espejo combined with Jan Paglinawan on attacks while Peter Torres and Rex Intal took care of their defense upfront as the Rising Suns subdued the tough-fighting Airmen to annex their fourth straight victory in the inaugural league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Air Force practically matched Cagayan’s power but just couldn’t sustain their third set charge and fell to their first defeat after trouncing Cignal, 3-1, last week.
Espejo came through with 17 hits, including 13 on attacks, while Paglinawan scored all his 14 markers on kills and Torres and Intal combined for five blocks while finishing 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Cignal bounced back from back-to-back setbacks with a tough 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 victory over Instituto Estetico Manila in the other game as Lorenzo Capate Jr. fired 12 hits, Edmar Bonono shot 11 points and Bonjomar Castel and Jeffrey Lansangan each chipped in 10 markers.
IEM, which ruled the first Shakey’s V-League men’s tournament last year, dropped to 0-2.
Jeffrey Malabanan and Edwin Tolentino produced 14 kills apiece and combined for 30 hits for Air Force, which also drew 10 markers from Ruben Inaudito and eight points from skipper Dante Alinsunurin. But the Airmen missed key hits and failed to save a couple of Cagayan attacks in the fourth.
In fact, league top setter Jessie Lopez produced 38 excellent sets for a team total of 47 for Air Force, four more than Cagayan, but the Rising Suns came through with nine blocks as against Air Force five and had six service aces against their rivals’ measly one.
Cagayan hardly won the battle of spikes, 55-54.
The victory thus moved the Rising Suns three wins away from sweeping the elims and a victory from assuring themselves of a semis spot in the tournament backed by Mikasa.
Meanwhile, the Cagayan-Air Force match will be shown on PTV 4 at 10:30 tonight (Friday) with the Cignal-Instituto clash to be aired tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.