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PH Air Force soars to championship heights

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By Kristel Satumbaga

There was no bringing down Air Force this time.

Air Force displayed steady composure in the crucial moments as it dethroned defending champion Cignal, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-25, 15-13, in the men’s division of the 2018 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night.

The Jet Spikers turned to the hot hands of Bryan Bagunas and Ranran Abdilla in subduing the HD Spikers to sweep their best-of-three championship series.

It was a rematch of last year’s championship affair, but this time Air Force hoisted the elusive trophy.

Bagunas exploded with 30 points including 28 kills, while Abdilla added 18 points to outgun an equally formidable Cignal squad bannered by Conference Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo.

Espejo sizzled with 40 points, but his individual efforts failed to lift Cignal to back-to-back titles.

“We’re happy we finally grabbed the championship,” said Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo.

The Jet Spikers drew the first blood in Sunday’s Game 1, 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, 30-28, 15-8, and rode on that momentum despite the HD Spikers’ resiliency.

Tied at 9-all in the fifth set, Air Force unleashed their offensive strength and capped the match with back-to-back hits from skipper Jeff Malabanan.

Malabanan finished with 12 points even as Pitrus De Ocampo had 28 excellent sets.

Meanwhile, Vice Co. settled for third-place honors after sweeping their own affair with a Game 2 win over PLDT, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.

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