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Air Force closes in on sweep

Games Saturday
3 p.m. – IEM vs Sta. Elena
5 p.m. – Cignal vs Navy

Air Force pressed its attacks from all angles then weathered Sta. Elena’s series of comebacks to hack out a 26-24, 25-22, 25-20 victory and move within a win from sweeping the elims of the Spikers’ Turf Season I Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.

Ruben Inaudito rammed in 11 kills while Reyson Fuentes came through with nine attack points and the duo combined for four blocks to help power the Airmen to their fourth straight victory and into the semifinal round of the season-ending conference of the league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.

The Wrecking Balls actually kept the game close in all sets but just couldn’t unleash a strong finishing kick to foil the Airmen from completing the 79-minute romp.

“We were more aggressive on our attacking game and it put them off-balanced,” said Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo, who will be shooting for a sweep against PLDT Home Ultera on Sunday.

Sta. Elena fell to fifth at 1-3 and in danger of missing the Final Four of the tournament backed by Mikasa and organized by Sports Vision.

Joven Camaganakan came away with 11 kills but failed to draw solid backup from the rest with Alnasip Laja struggling for eight hits, Myco Antonio settling for six and Ace Mandani, Rocky Honrade and Arjay Onia finishing with four points apiece.

In contrast, Jeffry Malabanan and Rodolfo Labrador chipped in nine markers each for Air Force, which edged Sta. Elena by just four in attack points, 39-35, and blocks, 9-5, while scoring five aces against the Wrecking Balls’ two.

Cignal closed in on the second semis berth with a 23-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-17 victory over Instituto Estetico Manila for a 3-1 card while PLDT Home Ultera moved up to solo third at 2-2 with a 25-22, 29-27, 25-14 win over Navy.

Lorenzo Capati Jr. unleashed a 16-hit game while Edmar Bonono scored 10 points and Jeffrey Lansangan added nine
markers for the HD Spikers, who bucked a shaky first set stint to sweep the next three.

The HD Spikers also produced 10 blocks although Eden Canlas still came away with a game-high 21 hits for the Volley Masters, who virtually bowed out of the semis race with a 0-3 card.

Mark Alfafara unloaded an 18-hit game while Ron Galang, Peter Torres and Henry Peca-a combined for 30 points as the Ultra Fast Hitters overpowered the Sailors, 51-33, to fashion out the victory.