Chef on a Diet-FEU battled back from two sets down and swept the next three to snatch a 21-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-19, 15-12 victory over a stunned PGJC-Navy side in Pool D of the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference on Sunday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Philippine Army likewise went through a wringer before subduing D’Navigators- Iloilo, 21-25, 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 15-12, in Pool A action of the four-division eliminations among a record-equaling 24 teams.
The Troopers missed the chance to wrap up the match in four as they wavered behind the service line but the troika of Mark Enciso, Benjaylo Labide and Wewe Medina spearheaded the team’s charge in the pressure-packed decider to pound out the victory.
“Okay naman, maganda yung ginalaw nila kaya lang nagkaroon kami ng errors sa service,” said Army head coach Melvin Carolino. “Sa fifth set na lang na-minimize (yung error) at gumanda yung laro ng team.”
The Troopers raced to a 10-6 lead in the fifth set courtesy of a Joel Villonson ace.
Deanne De Pedro rallied the D’Navigators to within, 12-14, with an off-the-block hit but Medina blasted in a cross-court hit to secure the win for the Troopers.
Enciso top scored for Army with 22 points on 19 attacks and three blocks, while Labide tallied 20 points, including 19 attacks, to lead the Troopers’ assault in their one-hour, 57-minute duel.
Earlier, the Tams actually still trailed in the third frame and barely pulled through in an extended battle then took the fourth on a fiery windup and completed their big fightback in the decider to join opening day winners EcoOil-La Salle and Fudgee Barr-Ateneo in the early lead in their respective groups.
They did trail the seasoned Stallions by one in the decider but Jerold Talisayan stepped up and scored two points in a big 3-0 FEU counter-attack that shoved the Tamaraws to a 12-10 lead.
Christian Marcelino fired an off-the-block hit in the ensuing Navy offensive but Lirick Mendoza hammered a quick hit and the Morayta-based squad moved to match point on a Joeven dela Vega attack error.
A Talisayan service miscue, however, stalled the Tamaraws but Dryx Saavedra came through with an emphatic kill to finish off the Stallions.
Earlier, Talisayan combined with Zhydryx Saavedra to spearhead FEU’s charge in the third before the Tamaraws unleashed a decisive 7-1 run to turn an 18-all count to a six-point victory.
Ariel Cacao put up a 29-excellent set performance for the Tamaraws, who will take on the Bayleaf Hotels-LPU next Sunday while Navy faces Xentro Mall-EAC on Nov. 5 in Pool D play.
In the other match, the returning Medina, who last played for the Troopers in 2017, showcased his all-around game with 18 points, 11 excellent receptions and six excellent digs as Army tied Fudgee Barr-Ateneo in the early Pool A lead.
Jerome Cordez fired 15 points Iloilo, including 13 attacks, an ace and a block, while De Pedro, who didn’t see action in the opening set, finished with 11 points on 10 attacks and one kill block.
Vince Lorenzo produced 14 excellent receptions and seven excellent digs while Aldre Ferrer tossed 14 excellent sets for the D’Navigators.
Army will take on Perpetual-Kinto Tyres on Sunday while Iloilo aims to bounce back against Don Pacundo-DLSU Dasmarinas on Friday.