Youth prevailed over experience as Iloilo marked its Spikers’ Turf debut in style, grounding a returning Air Force side, 25-21, 25-23, 25-19, on Wednesday to join Army and Imus in the early lead in the Open Conference at the Paco Arena.
Skipper Jerome Cordez unloaded 15 points and finished with seven digs while Jade Disquitado, a former Santa Rosa standout, added 14 points, seven excellent receptions and six digs to help anchor the D’Navigators’ straight-set romp.
"Credit sa mga players namin kasi syempre naglaro sila nang maayos at nakikinig naman. Sabi ko lang tandaan na beterano 'yung kalaban nila, sila mas bata, mas kundisyon sabi ko alam niyo na ano ang advantage natin," said Iloilo head coach John Kenneth Panes.
A late blast by Disquitado, Rash Nursiddik, and Nas Gwaza netted the D'Navigators the first set as they shattered a 20-all count to pound out the four-point win.
Iloilo kept pounding the net with strong attacks while pouncing on their rivals’ lapses in the second frame, putting the D’Navigators away at 20-11. But the Airmen, with Ranran Abdilla on the firing end, regrouped and mounted a rally to threaten within, 23-24. But Abdilla’s service miscue stymied their charge, enabling the former to post a 2-0 set lead.
Cordez then took over in the third frame then capped his set-long brilliance with three hits to finish off the Airmen and cap the team’s inspiring start.
Abdilla tallied 18 points on 17 attacks and an ace for Air Force, which also drew 10 points from Edwin Tolentino.
Iloilo thus joined Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography, which toppled Santa Rosa in four, and Philippine Army, which stunned Navy in five in Sunday’s inaugurals, in the lead of the 11-team field of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.