Air Force teams triumph
What seemed like a day to forget ended in a blaze of glory for Air Force.
A string of misfortunes before the game and Cignal’s gutsy stand hardly ruffled the Jet Spikers, who completed a two-game sweep for the Spikers Turf crown of the Shakey’s V-League Season Two-Open Conference Wednesday night at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Rookies Fauzi Ismail and Howard Mojica dished out solid games as Air Force pulled out a thrilling 25-19, 25-17, 28-26 victory in Game 2.
Air Force’s women’s team also showed a steely resolve and outplayed Pocari Sweat late to pull off a stunning win, 17-25, 25-20, 15-25, 26-24, 15-11, in Game 1 of their championship duel.
The lady Jet Spikers appeared beaten when they faced seemingly insurmountable leads of 3-11, 14-20 and 18-22 in a thrilling fourth set, but they prevailed in dramatic fashion.
“Our fighting spirit showed,” said Air Force head coach Jasper Jimenez in Filipino.
“Even when the opponents pulled away, our fighting spirit and cohesion were the keys,” Jimenez stressed. “We went through the eye of the needle today.”
May Pantino and Joy Cases spearheaded Air Force’s rally. Pantino wound up with 17 points, including an off-the-block hit that brought the Jet Spikers to match point, 14-11.
Ismail and Mojica, rookie recruits from National U and Emilio Aguinaldo, respectively, combined for 28 hits for the Jet Spikers who wrapped up the win in 75 minutes.
“We were determined to bring back men’s volleyball glory to Air Force,” said men’s coach Rhovyl Verayo.
Preparations for the game though were far from ideal as Ismail came in late due to traffic while Mojica left his uniform in the barracks in Villamor.
“I had to have someone get it for him,” said Verayo.
The problems didn’t stop there for the Jet Spikers as veteran setter Jessie Lopez suffered cramps in the second set.
“I was forced to call a time-out when we were up 24-17 in the second set because he (Lopez) was cramping and I had to replace him with Pitrys (De Ocampo),” said Verayo.
The Jet Spikers proved resilient with Lopez characterizing their valiant effort. He returned and finished with a game-best 31 excellent sets while Jeffrey Malabanan turned in 10 hits.
It was sweet revenge for Air Force, which also nailed a first championship in the league.
The Jet Spikers bowed to the same Cignal side in last year’s Reinforced Conference where they blew a one-game lead in the best-of-three series.
Meanwhile, Sta. Elena Construction captured third place despite losing Game 2 to Instituto Estetico Manila, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 13-15.
The Wrecking Ball took third spot owing to their 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19 win over IEM in Game One of their series last July 4.
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