MANILA, Philippines -- Iloilo recovered from a first set loss to take down VNS, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-23, and remain unbeaten in the Spikers' Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila yesterday.
Iloilo skipper Jerome Cordez scored 16 of his 17 points on kills as the Navigators improved to 3-0 in the tournament and took solo first place in the league standings.
Middle blockers Naz Gwaza and Rashh Nursiddik also stepped up to finish with 14 and 10 points, respectively, while Jade Disquitado and Neil De Pedro combined for 23 points in the win.
"Yung determination (to win) talagang nandiyan eh. Sabi ko maglaro lang kayo nang maayos, gawin niyo lang 'yung part niyo para kung ano man 'yung result, wala tayong pagsisisihan," said Iloilo head coach John Kenneth Panes.
Iloilo had to overcome a close loss in the first set before dominating the second, then showed their composure in the next two frames to complete the victory. They shattered a 21-all count in the third and took four of the next five points, then clinched the tightly-fought fourth set on VNS' back-to-back service miscues.
Pemie Bagalay put the Griffins back within one in the fourth with a through-the-block hit before VNS subbed out Russel Fronda for Edward Andrada, who however proved cold and served long.
Fronda led VNS with 15 points on 12 attacks and three blocks, Ron Medalla added 14 points on 12 spikes and two aces while Bagalay finished with 11 markers for the Griffins, who dropped to 1-2.
Meanwhile, Air Force barged into the win column after outlasting National University in five sets, 25-22, 30-28, 20-25, 17-25, 15-4.
The Airmen racked up eight of the first 11 points in the decider then held the Volley Builders to just one point the rest of the way to save what could've been a disastrous finish after losing steam in the third and fourth sets.
Jessie Lopez kept the team intact with his superb playmaking, finishing with 25 excellent sets he laced with five digs and two blocks as the Airmen bounced back from a pair of shutout losses to Iloilo and Imus to improve to ninth in the 11-team field.
The loss was the defending champion NU's third straight as the Builders joined the idle Santa Rosa City Lions in the cellar.