Griffins gun for last semis berth in Spikers' Turf

Griffins gun for last semis berth in Spikers' Turf
The Griffins need to hurdle the Troopers in their 2:30 p.m. encounter to avoid going through a playoff where momentum could shift to the Army side.
Spikers' Turf

Games Tuesday

11:30 p.m. – Navy vs Santa Rosa
2:30 p.m. – Army vs VNS
5:30 p.m. – Sta. Elena vs Cignal

MANILA, Philippines – Unbeaten Sta. Elena and defending back-to-back champion Cignal face off Tuesday in what could be a preview of the title duel while Navy seeks to cap its remarkable elims surge with another victory over back-to-the-wall Santa Rosa.

But focus will be on the Army-VNS-One Alicia showdown, a key match for the last semis berth in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena.

The Troopers, sent to the brink with four straight losses, snapped the skid with a five-set escape over the City Lions last Thursday, and coupled with the Griffins’ floundering finish, earned a shot at a playoff for the fourth Final Four seat.

Despite its three straight setbacks, VNS stays in solo fourth but with a 2-3 card, the Griffins need to hurdle the Troopers in their 2:30 p.m. encounter to avoid going through a playoff where momentum could shift to the Army side.

The City Lions, who also tote a 1-4 card like the Troopers, also have a chance to force a tie for No. 4 in case of an Army victory but the young squad will be hard-pressed to notch their second win against the seasoned Sealions.

After a shaky 1-1 start, PGJC-Navy went on a winning spree, repelling Army, then upending Cignal, before turning back VNS — all in four-set fashions, to tie the HD Spikers at 4-1 behind the Nationals’ pristine 5-0 mark.

But the Sealions remain wary of the City Lions in their 11:30 p.m. encounter kicking off the first and only three-game bill in the single round elims of the country’s first and only men’s volley league organized by Sports Vision.

The Sta. Elena-Cignal clash at 5:30 p.m. caps the busy schedule in a match that could go down to the wire with the Nationals out to prove their worth against the tested HD Spikers, who are raring to get to the semis on a winning note.

The Final Four is also a single round robin affair with the top two clashing for the first championship after a three-year hiatus.

Sta. Elene's Nico Almendras, Michaelo Buddin, Ken Malinis, Gerard Diao and playmaker Josh Retamar expect to have their hands full against the likes of Marck Espejo, PJ Bugaoan, Ysay Marasigan, Louie Ramirez and setter Owen Suarez of Cignal as the two teams go for the big psychological win needed for the tough semis grind.

VNS, meanwhile, hopes to draw the best from Kevin Montemayor, Kim Malabunga, Ben San Andres, Ron Adviento and Uriel Mendoza in an attempt not just to check its skid but more importantly clinch the last semis berth.

But the fired-up Troopers are all set to go for Thursday’s sudden death on a team built around Benjaylo Labide, PJ Rojas, JD Diwa and Awie Abdulla with top hitter Madz Gampong reconsidering his previous decision to head back home to Tawi to anchor the team’s bid the way he did in his 22-point explosion against the City Lions.

“I also want to help the team make it to the semis. I know coach (Melvin Carolino) needs a wing spiker,” said Gampong.



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