RELENTLESS on attack, Smart prevailed over Maynilad in four hard-fought sets to stretch its unbeaten start to three games last night even as 2011 champion Army debuted in style in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Arena.
The trio of Sue Roces, Gretchel Soltones and Maru Banaticla proved too tough to handle as Smart survived its most difficult test yet with a 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 27-25 decision to firm up its grip of top spot.
Seeking to duplicate its romp two years ago, Army opened its campaign on a decisive note, rolling past Air Force, 25-13, 25-22, 25-18.
Admittedly lacking in match practice due to heavy rains last week, Army still got the job done behind stellar efforts from Jovelyn Gonzaga and former league MVP Mary Jean Balse, who combined for 27 points.
It was Air Force’s second straight loss, counting its three-set defeat to Cagayan Valley last Friday.
“It’s a good first win especially with our situation last week when we could not train because of the floods,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman.
Army missed Rachel Anne Daquis who will only join the team late in the elimination round.
The Lady Troopers managed to get themselves out of trouble in the second set when they fought back from 18-21 down by scoring seven of the next eight points.
Except for those tense moments in the second set, Army was hardly troubled, pulling off the win in a little over an hour.
Unlike in its first two wins, Smart had to work harder this time to keep its streak going. And with Soltones and Roces holding the fort, Smart proved steadier when it mattered.
Showing she can more than keep up with more experienced players, Soltones finished with 17 points, matching the output of Roces, while Banaticla tallied 14 hits in the match that lasted an hour and 51 minutes.
Maynilad, which opened its campaign with a five-set triumph over Philippine National Police, lost for the first time in two outings.