Soltones shines as Laoag grounds Air Force

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Laoag’s Kath Villegas (left) goes for a tip as she goes up against Air Force’s lone blocker in Jocemer Tapic during their Shakey’s V League Season 13 Reinforced Conference clash at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Laoag’s Kath Villegas (left) goes for a tip as she goes up against Air Force’s lone blocker in Jocemer Tapic during their Shakey’s V League Season 13 Reinforced Conference clash at the Philsports Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grethcel Soltones made up for an opening set absence with a fiery 13-hit performance as Team Laoag pulled through in two tight sets and snatched a 20-25, 26-24, 25-21, 26-24 victory over Air Force to bolster its semifinal bid in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Wednesday.

Soltones rushed in from a thesis defense at San Sebastian and missed the opening set action but poured it all from the second frame on, coming away with crisp kills on both sides, the last against two defenders that ended that the one-hour, 39-minute encounter marked by power hits, quick sets, long rallies and tip-ins but marred by poor receptions.

But the Power Smashers came out victorious in the end, their second win in three games moving it behind unbeaten UST (4-0) and Customs (2-0) and boosting its drive in the single round elims of the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.

The Power Smashers barely won their spiking duel, 48-45, and bowed to the Jet Spikers’ solid blocking, 2-8. But the Open Conference fourth placers pounced on their rivals’ sloppy reception, scoring 14 aces while yielding seven points in return.

Wenneth Eulalio backed Soltones with 10 hits while skipper and setter Relea Saet added nine points, including a couple of tip-ins in the middle sets.

Jocemer Tapic fired 18 hits and Joy Cases, Dell Palomata and May Pantino combined for 16 points for Air Force. But the Jet Spikers fell short in the second and fourth sets, enabling the Power Smashers to steal the win.

Air Force fell to 1-2 in a tie with UP for joint fifth in the tournament backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.

“I thought she (Soltones) wouldn’t make it because she told me she had thesis defense. So we were ready to play without her,” said Laoag coach Nes Pamilar. “I’m happy she made it in time and helped the team.”

Laoag also survived an off-game by Jorelle Singh, who was held to just six points after she exploded with 28 in a 25-18, 27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 9-15 defeat to Alyssa Valdez and the Custom Transformers last week.

“She (Singh) wasn’t injured, she was just a little off because she came from National U practice and was a little tired,” said Pamilar.

Earlier, Instituto Estetico Manila struggled past newcomer 100 Plus, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23, to notch its second win in three games and bolster its semifinal bid in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference.

No IEM player scored in double figures but 12 Volley Masters hit at least one point or more with skipper Edan Canlas firing seven points and Michael Zamora, Daryl Valenzuela and Khenno Franco adding six hits apiece.

The Active Spikers, behind Philip Bagalay, threatened to extend the match at 22-23 in the third but the Volley Masters toughened upfront to win two of the last three points and complete the sweep in 71 minutes.

Bagalay finished with 17 points but only drew a pair of six-pointers from Jasper Adorador and Jason Sarabia as 100 Plus bowed out of the race with a 0-3 card.

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