Air Force nears Shakey’s finals
JUDY Caballejo took charge during critical stretches in the last two sets to lift Air Force to a gutsy 25-20, 26-24, 26-24 victory over Laoag yesterday and move within a win from gaining a finals berth in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The former University of Santo Tomas standout delivered 15 points, the bulk of which coming when the game was on the line as the Jet Spikers grabbed the headstart in the best of three semifinal series.
Caballejo keyed an Air Force rally from 18-22 down in the second frame, firing a kill for a 25-24 lead before scoring on a service ace to give the Jet Spikers a two-set advantage.
With the game tied at 24 in the third, the former UST star also fired an off-the-block hit and another ace to finish off Laoag.
“She just took over in crucial situations for us,” said Air Force coach Jeffrey Jimenez.
Veteran Joy Cases also unloaded 15 hits, including 14 on kills, while the rest of the Jet Spikers flashed solid net defense and improved reception to avenge their similar straight-set loss to the Power Smashers in the elimination round two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Cignal and Air Force pulled off thrilling wins to inch closer to a title clash in the Spikers Turf Season Two.
The HD Spikers outlasted the Sta. Elena Construction side, 25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 26-24, while the Jet Spikers slipped past the Instituto Estetico Manila Phoenix Volley Masters, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23.
Cignal banked on La Salle standout Raymark Woo who had a 22-point effort to help Cignal stretch its unbeaten streak to six.
“We knew all along he will be an important part of our team and today (yesterday) he proved us correct,” said Cignal coach Michael Carino of the power-spiking Woo, the best scorer in last year’s UAAP.
Air Force leaned on the duo of Ismail Fauzi and Rodolfo Labrador, who joined forces for 32 hits.
Game Two of both the Spikers’ Turf and V-League semis are set on Saturday, also at Filoil Centre.
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