MANILA, Philippines -- VNS-One Alicia ended a three-game losing streak at the right time.
The Griffins took down Army-Katinko in four sets, 25-20, 25-16, 26-28, 25-21, to snap their skid and earn the last semifinals berth in the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference on Tuesday afternoon at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Four players reached double-digits for VNS-One Alicia, led by Ben San Andres who had 19 points on 12 kills and six aces. Kim Malabunga scored four of his 16 points on kill blocks, while Kevin Montemayor contributed 15 points.
The Griffins joined National University-Sta. Elena, Cignal HD, and Navy in the semifinals while formally eliminating Army from the semis hunt.
Ish Polvorosa pulled the strings on offense to help the Griffins surge to a two-set lead, but the Troopers were determined to extend the match and took a nine-point lead in the third set.
VNS-One Alicia erased the deficit and sent the set to an extension. Their comeback fell short, however, as a service error and an ace by Madzlan Gampong kept the Troopers alive.
"Sabi ko lang sa kanila, hindi tayo pwedeng mag-relax kasi tumatapang masyado 'yung Army. Sabi ko, kumbaga, 'yung tapang natin, kung gaano sila katapang, i-times two natin," VNS-One Alicia head coach Ralph Ocampo said of his message to his players after the third set.
The Griffins buckled down to work in the fourth set, fending off a last-ditch rally by the Troopers. Army came within three points, 24-21, after VNS' Uriel Mendoza committed an attack error on a backrow hit. But JD Diwa sent his serve to the net in the next rally, gifting the Griffins with the match winner.
"Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila na every game is a lesson para sa amin. So, bawat talo namin, inaaral lang namin kung paano kami magi-improve," Ocampo said after snapping their three-game slide.
Gampong had 13 points and Diwa finished with 11 for the Troopers, who were outgunned 56-43 by the Griffins.
The Spikers' Turf semifinals will be another round-robin affair starting on September 24. The top two teams after the semis will face off for the championship, with the third and fourth placed teams battling for the bronze medal.