Spikers' Turf: Army outlasts Sta. Rosa in 5 sets for first win

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2022 05:07 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2022 05:49 PM

 The Army-Katinko Troopers. PVL Media.
The Army-Katinko Troopers. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Army-Katinko finally secured a first victory in the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference, outlasting the Santa Rosa City Lions in a five-set affair on Thursday afternoon at the Paco Arena in Manila.

The Troopers displayed their poise in the final set to seize a 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 17-25, 15-6 victory, snapping a four-game slide in the tournament.

The breakthrough win was a confidence-booster for the Troopers, although they no longer have their fate in their hands as far as their semifinals chances are concerned. 

"Siguro po dahil sa gusto namin manalo, dahil nakailang talo na rin po kami," said Army's Madz Gampong, who played his last game for the Troopers before heading to his hometown of Tawi-Tawi. 

"No mercy na 'tong game na 'to, kasi do-or-die," Army coach Melvin Carolino said of their mindset in the game.

Gampong fired 22 points on 13 kills, seven blocks, and two aces on top of 12 digs in a superb all-around performance. Benjaylo Labide added 20 points, including the match-winner. Patrick John Rojas added 12 points. 

Santa Rosa, a team composed mostly of high school players, also fell to 1-4 in the Open Conference to tie the Troopers at the bottom of the standings. 

Forced to a fifth set by the youthful City Lions, the Troopers made a statement in the fifth set as they raced to a 5-1 advantage. Santa Rosa got within one point, 6-5, after an attack error by Gampong, but the Troopers won the next six points thanks to a combination of big hits by Labide and errors by Santa Rosa.

A huge block on Santa Rosa ace Jade Disquitado put the Troopers at match point, before Labide uncorked a sharp hit to wrap up the match after two hours and eight minutes. 

"First set, may service error. Second set, nag-less ang error namin sa service, at the same time, gumana 'yung block, hanggang na-retain hanggang fifth set," said Carolino. "Sa fifth set, nag-less service errors kami, tapos gumana 'yung receive, 'yung blocking. Kaya sabi ko mananalo na kami."

The Troopers gave away 33 free points off their errors but played a mostly clean game in the pivotal fifth set. They also had a massive 13-2 advantage in terms of blocks, and a 9-5 lead in service aces.

The high-leaping Disquitado had 22 points in the defeat. 

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