Army seizes inaugural Super Liga volley crown

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MISSION accomplished for TMS-Philippine Army.

Brandishing firepower that could not be matched by the other teams, Army captured the inaugural championship of the Philippine Super Liga women’s volleyball tournament by downing Cignal, 25-15, 25-18, 14-25, 25-16, last night at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

The Lady Troopers, made up of former national players, exploited the weakness of the HD Spikers with a solid attacking game and smart defensive job to finish the conference with six successive victories after suffering their only loss at the start of the event.

After a poor third set, the Lady Troopers, starring lefty Jovelyn Gonzaga, launched an all-out attack in the fourth frame to become the first champions of the fledgling, semi-professional league.

Army team leaders Joanne Bunag and Mary Jean Balse delivered the winning blows as their balloon-toting supporters erupted in celebration.

“We’re one team, one goal, one heart. We believe in one other,” said Gonzaga, 21, primarily a beach volleyball player who was absent from the team’s first two games as she competed abroad.

Army quickly asserted its might by taking the first two sets through the efforts of veteran gunners Balse, Michelle Carolino, and Jacqueline Alarca.

As in their previous matches, the Lady Troopers lowered their defenses in the third and allowed the HD Spikers to get back into the game through Michelle Datuin and Honey Royse Tubino.

Balse finished with a game-high 16 points, while Alarca also chipped in 12 each for Army which picked up the P150,000 prize.

Tubino scored 11 while Danika Genrauli and Venus Bernal had nine and eight points, respectively, for Cignal which went home with P100,000.

Petron played like a well-oiled machine against a listless Cagayan Valley side to prevail, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 25-16, and take third place.

Maika Ortiz unloaded 20 points, while Ma. Angeli Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo delivered 16 and 11 points, respectively for the Blaze Spikers. Fille Cainglet added 10 points for Petron.

“Even if we’re only playing for third, we still wanted to win,” said Vilet Ponce de Leon of Petron. “We wanted to end the conference on a winning note.”

Joy Cases took up the fight for the Lady Rising Suns and wound up with 18 points, while Liza de Ramos and Analyn Joy Benito had 10 and nine, respectively.

Cignal’s top striker Bernal, who didn’t play competitively for six years after college, was adjudged Most Valuable Player, leading three other HD Spikers in the individual honor roll.

Big-hitter Tubino grabbed the Best Spiker award, while fellow Cignal bets Arianne Mei Argarin and Jennelyn Reyes were picked Best Setter and Best Receiver, respectively.

TMS-Philippine Army veteran Cristina Salak took the Best Blocker plum, while Cagayan Valley’s Sandra Delos Santos and Angelique Dionela were named Best Server and Best Libero, respectively. Paulina Soriano of PLDT MyDSL was league Top Scorer.

Earlier, PLDT MyDSL had to get through a deciding set to put away PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo, 25-18, 26-24, 21-25, 21-25, 20-18, and take fifth place.

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