AIR Force survived a grueling five-set thriller to give the Megabuilders its first taste of defeat, 25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 26-28, 15-12, in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Jet Spikers dominated in the first two sets but struggled to finish off the depleted Megabuilders due to sloppy play in the third and fourth frames.
Air Force, though, turned to defense to seal the win in the deciding set.
"Hindi iyon ang ineexpect namin na labanan, hindi na umabot kami sa limang set kasi marami na namang nawala (Philippine team members Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail) sa kalaban namin at the same time kasi kailangan namin yung puntos para umabot kami sa final four," Air Force coach Rhovyl Velayo said.
"Hindi ko masabi kung baka overconfidence lang sa mga players namin kaya ganun. Most of the errors na iniiscore kasi ng kalaban namin galing sa amin kaya ayun pinilit namin na mag-less kami ng error para maging maganda yung outcome ng result ng laro namin," Velayo said.
Nino Jeruz led the Air Force with 20 points while Edwin Tolentino chipped in 19 to secure the third spot in the playoffs with a 5-2 win-loss record. The Megabuilders are still on the top spot with a 6-1 win-loss card.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Army Troopers defeated the Gamboa Coffee Mix Spikers in straight sets, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19.
"Tuwang-tuwa naman ako kasi na-straight set namin yung kalaban at lumabas yung ginawa namin sa training. Simple lang naman ang gusto kong mangyari, magkaron ng first ball, pagandahin yung blocking at dominahin yung floor defense," Army coach Rico De Guzman said.
Jayvee Sumagaysay topscored for Army with 11 points while Arnold Bautista chipped in nine markers.
"May chance na magkaroon kami ng playoffs ng Sta. Elena by Wednesday siguro so yun yung dapat naming paghandaan and sabi ko kung papasok kami sa playoffs ulit yung blocking at floor defense dapa naming dominahin. Kapag nagawa namin yun, may chance kami pumasok ng top four," De Guzman said.
The fourth-seed Army now has a 4-3 win-loss record and might have a two-way tie with Sta. Elena (3-3) depending on the result of Sta. Elena's game against Café Lupe on Sunday at the same venue.