THAT old experience versus youth catchphrase will be the key factor once more as TMS-Philippine Army and Cignal slug it out for the first Philippine Super Liga women’s volleyball crown today at MOA Arena.
With their long stint with Army and the national team, the Lady Troopers are slightly favored in their 5 p.m. showdown against the HD Spikers, whose core is built around tall, young and powerful players like 22-year-old Danika Gendrauli, 22-year-old Jennylyn Reyes, 23-year-old Rapril Aguilar and 20-year-old Honey Royse Tubino.
With 36-year-old Cristina Salak leading the attack with 14 points, the Lady Troopers hacked out a heart-pounding 25-22, 25-22, 25-27,10-25, 15-13 semifinal win over another youthful and talented team Cagayan Valley last Friday.
In contrast, Cignal, led by veterans Venus Bernal and Michelle Datuin, swept past Petron Blaze in the other semifinal duel, winning 25-20, 25-20, 25-23.
“Our win over Cagayan tested our character and will to win,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman. “But we should still keep on pushing. This is already the championship and whoever wants it more will win it.”
Former University of Santo Tomas top gun Mary Jean Balse, said teamwork will play a crucial role in the winner-take-all match. “We’ve been in these situations before and the years of playing together will show.”
Of all the six teams in the league’s initial conference, only the Lady Troopers were allowed to enter with an intact roster. The rest were allowed to pick three players apiece from the pool after organizers chose nine-man lineups for each of them based on positions played.
TMS-Philippine Army has been on a five-game roll after losing to Cagayan in the inaugural game. The streak included a hard-fought 25-22, 25-15, 25-27, 25-18 triumph over Cignal last July 10.
Yet the HD Spikers have found their groove the past three games, something coach Sinfronio Acaylar credited to preparation and scouting.
“Rest assured that we will come very prepared against Philippine Army on Sunday,” he said.
Cagayan Valley and Petron, the semifinal losers, will battle for third place, while ousted teams PLDT MyDSL and PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo open the triple bill to determine final standings.