Cagayan deals Smart 1st loss
Defense sparks three-set routBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Cagayan Province neutralized Smart’s vaunted attacking game and hammered out an emphatic 25-23, 26-24, 25-20 triumph yesterday for its second straight victory in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Drawing big games from Thai import Kannika Thipachot and former league MVP Aiza Maizo, Cagayan delivered a fiery performance highlighted by a 49-kill output to deal Smart its first loss in four games in the eight-team tournament.
Former University of Santo Tomas star Angeli Tabaquero blasted 15 hits while Wenneth Eulalio contributed 11 points.
But it was the duo’s work on the defensive end, together with Adamson stalwart Pau Soriano that helped boost the Rising Suns to 2-0. The Rising Suns wound up with seven blocks.
“Our game plan was to deny their open spikers which we did,” said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar in Filipino. “We really focused on blocking. We knew if our blocking clicked, we would have a good chance.”
Later, veteran-laden Meralco survived a gritty stand from a young Far Eastern U side, prevailing in a 25-12, 25-22, 18-23, 23-25, 15-13 cliffhanger.
The Power Spikers leaned on a Coco Wang kill at match point as they improved to 2-1.
Wang fired 23 points while Maureen Ouano sparkled with a 14-point output highlighted by four blocks.
Smart’s lack of players finally took a toll on the squad.
Alyssa Valdez will only join the Net Spikers, currently with an eight-player rotation, later in the tournament, while Dindin Santiago has decided to suit up only on Sunday matches because of her heavy academic load.
Sue Roces and Gretchel Soltones were held to a combined 13 hits.
Meanwhile, the Smart-Meralco clash last Sunday will be shown on GMA News TV Channel 11 at 1 p.m. today while the Cagayan-Smart duel will be aired tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.