INSTITUTO Estetico Manila snapped out of a three-game rut as it swept Sta. Elena, 25-19, 25-23, 26-24, Saturday to revive its semifinal hopes alive in the Spikers' Turf Season 1-Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Ian Conde fired 15 hits while Karl dela Calzada and Jeffrey Jimenez added 10 and nine points, respectively, as the Volley Masters outlasted the Wrecking Balls in the last two fiercely fought sets to hack out the 80-minute victory.
It was IEM’s first win after dropping its first three games but it kept the Volley Masters in the race for the last semis berth provided they hurdle their final elims match against Navy on Wednesday and hope either PLDT or Navy won’t go over two wins to force a playoff.
The loss, however, booted out Sta. Elena from the semis picture as it closed out its stint in the season-ending tournament of the league presented by PLDT Home Ultera with a 1-4 slate.
Sta. Elena actually turned in 34 excellent sets as against IEM’s 22 but the Wrecking Balls just couldn’t get the breaks in down-to-the-wire finishes.
Joven Camaganakan rammed in 12 hits, Arjay Onia banged in 10 points while Myco Antonio, Rocky Honrade, Alnasip Laja and Anthony Arbasto combined for 20 markers for Sta. Elena.
So tight was the match that IEM barely prevailed in attack points, 41-35, and in blocks, 7-5, with both teams finishing with identical four aces.
Meanwhile, powerhouse Air Force goes for a sweep as it plays PLDT Home Ultera in the lone match at 5 p.m. today (Sunday).
But the Ultra Fast Hitters are going flat out for a win as they shoot for a semis berth at the close their elims campaign in the tournament backed by Mikasa and organized by Sports Vision.
Games are aired on weekdays on PTV-4 starting at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:15 p.m.