VNS One-Alicia survived some anxious moments to claim the last semifinals seat after beating Army, 25-20, 25-16, 26-28, 25–21, in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Tuesday, 20 September at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Griffins recovered from a third-set meltdown to arrest a three-game losing skid and join unbeaten National University-Sta. Elena and defending champion Cignal in the Final Four.
Skipper Benedict San Andres scored 19 points off 12 kills, six aces, and a kill block to go with 16 excellent receptions and eight digs for VNS, which closed the elimination round with a 3-3 win-loss record.
Kim Malabunga had 16 markers, Kevin Montemayor posted 15 points while Uriel Mendoza got 11 points for the Griffins, who drew 23 excellent sets from Ish Polvorosa.
The Griffins played with a sense of urgency in the tight fourth set, breaking a 10-10 deadlock with a timely scoring spurt as VNS successfully eluded complications of falling into a playoff for the last seat in the round-robin semifinals.
Semifinal matches are scheduled to begin on Saturday.
Madz Gampong paced Army with 13 points while Joh Diwa finished with 11.
VNS rallied from a 9-19 hole and saved seven set points for a 24-24 deuce in third frame.
PJ Rojas stopped the bleeding for Army to retake the set point advantage, the Griffins saved two more set points before eventually yielding.
Meanwhile, PGJC-Navy fueled its momentum heading into the Final Four after a cakewalk, 25-12, 25-11, 25-22, win over Santa Rosa City in the opening game.
Skipper Greg Dolor and league-leading scorer Jau Umandal led the Sealions’ assault with 12 points each and a combined 20 kills out of Navy’s total of 43 that dwarfed the young Lions’ output of 23.
The Sealions wrapped up their elimination campaign with a 5-1 win-loss record and a sizzling four-game winning run.
“We were able to execute our game plan. I told them to consider this as a tune-up match that we can build on going into the semis,” said Navy coach Cecil Cruzada.
The Sealions are still in contention for the top spot with the Nationals (5-0) and the HD (4-1) still playing as of press time.
In case of a three-way tie at 5-1 slate, the semis ranking will be decided through FIVB tiebreak.
Jade Disquitado was the lone Santa Rosa City player in double figures with 17 points.
The Lions closed their debut conference with a 1-5 record tied with Army.
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