It took them years to make it, but Air Force finally booked a ticket to the championship round of the Shakey’s V-League.
The Jet Spikers, whose previous highest finish in the tournament was fourth place, outlasted Laoag in a thrilling 5-setter to enter the finals of the Open Conference Saturday night at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Almost wasting a 2-set lead, the veteran-laden crew proved to be the steadier team down the stretch and swept their best-of-3 series, 2-0.
Judy Caballejo typified the Jet Spikers’ effort with 23 points and 14 digs, scoring off 19 hits, 3 aces and a block as the wards of coach Jasper Jimenez look to seal their first-ever crown in the country’s first semi-pro league.
May Ann Pantino, Joy Cases and Jocemer Tapic also contributed with 17, 14 and 10 markers, respectively.
After losing the first 2 sets, the Power Smashers suddenly came to life behind the exploits of Adamson stud Jema Galanza.
But the team of coach Nes Pamilar was unable to go toe-to-toe with the Air Force in the final set to see their conference come to a close.
Galanza had an all-around performance with 20 points, 16 digs and 9 excellent receptions, but Jovie Prado struggled anew against the Jet Spikers and finished with just 13 markers. — By Josiah Albelda