Active Smashers, Volley Masters clash in preview of title duel

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System Tooth and Gum Care and Instituto Estetico Manila (IEM) size up each other today (Thursday) in a preview of the men’s championship while Cagayan Valley primes up for the women’s finals against Meralco at the close of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Third Conference elimination at The Arena in San Juan City.

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The Active Smashers and the IEM Volley Masters head to their 4 p.m. clash with identical 4-1 cards with the winner gaining the top seeding and the momentum in the best-of-three finals of the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel starting on Sunday.

IEM rallied from 1-2 set down to nip Systema in five in the very first men’s volley game on October 5 with Jason Canlas, Karl dela Calzada and Jeffrey Jimenez combining to carry the team to victory.

The troika is again expected to lead the Volley Masters’ charge although coach Ernesto Balubar will likely try new combinations he could use to startle the Active Smashers in their keenly-awaited showdown not only for the crown but also for the bragging rights as the league’s first-ever men’s champion.

Like Balubar, Systema mentor Arnold Laniog boasts of three hitters in Salvador Depante, Chris Antonio and Angelo Espiritu with the trio also likely to take it easy today in preparation for Sunday’s big match.

The Rising Suns, meanwhile, try to toughen up for their title rematch with the Army Lady Troopers as they close out their elimination campaign against the winless Meralco Power Spikers at 6 p.m.

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