Air Force assured of playoff for semis seat

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AIR Force overcame the Power Smashers’ spirited comeback and scrambled for a 25-22, 26-24, 18-25, 17-25, 15-13, victory last night to assure itself of at least a playoff for a semifinal berth in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

The Lady Jet Spikers proved steadier in a back-and-forth decider and pulled off the grueling one-hour, 52-minute victory, their fourth against a loss, that sent them to the semis of the mid-season conference organized by Sports Vision alongside the unbeaten Creamline Cool Smashers.

They also slammed the door shut on the Power Smashers, who dropped to joint eighth with the UP Lady Maroons at 1-5.

But for a while, the Power Smashers looked poise to averting an outright elimination when they battled back from two sets down with emphatic victories in the third and fourth sets. They led, 9-7, in the fifth but succumbed to pressure as the Jet Spikers leaned on their experience to survive a pressure-packed endgame, scoring back-to-back points that shattered the 13-all count and finished off the Power Smashers.

Mary Ann Pantiino fired 14 hits, Joy Cases and Iari Yongco added 12 points apiece while Jocemer Tapic chipped in 10 markers for Air Force, which yielded the battle off spikes, 53-58, but had more blocks, 10-8, and finished one ace better than their rivals.

Jovelyn Prado of the Power Smashers unloads a kill against Iari Yong of Air Force.

Jovelyn Prado hammered in 22 points while Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan, Dimdim Pacres and Ann Esguerra combined for 43 points for the Power Smashers.

Meanwhile, Creamline moved within a win from sweeping the single round elims as it ousted University of the Philippines, 19-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-17, 16-14, late Saturday.

The Lady Maroons had hoped for a big reversal in a bid to keep its slim semis homes alive but failed to stop the Cool Smashers’ spirited comeback and dropped out of the race with a 1-5 card.

Creamline won for the second straight time with ace player Alyssa Valdez and will go for a sweep against Perlas-BanKo next Sunday.

Earlier, Army subdued Instituto Estetico Manila, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11, and revived its semifinal bid in the men’s tournament of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.

The Troopers improved to 2-3 and tied the idle Sta. Elena side at third while dropping the IEM Volley Masters to fifth with a 2-4 mark heading to the last three elims playdates.

Gamboa Coffee, on the other hand, held off Café Lupe in a duel of winless teams, pulling off a 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 27-25 victory in the other match.

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