SMART leaned on Alyssa Valdez in turning back first-round tormentor Air Force, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 25-15, last night at the start of the quarterfinal round of the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Playing only her second game for the team, Valdez came through with 25 hits as the Net Spikers fashioned out their fifth win in eight games to tie their victims at third spot.
It was the first loss in six games for Air Force, which yielded 24 points off blocks and service aces.
“We started slow but picked it up starting the third set,” said coach Roger Gorayeb. “As much as possible we want to be No. 1 but we still have a long way to go.”
Earlier, Philippine Army snapped Philippine National Police’s two-game winning run with a comprehensive 25-13, 25-23, 25-22 triumph.
Slowly but surely regaining her lethal form, Rachel Anne Daquis fired 15 points for Army, matching the output of former Most Valuable Player Mary Jean Balse.
With the victory, the Army Women improved to 7-1 just behind Cagayan Valley and moved into a solid position to grab a Final Four spot.
The Lady Patrol-lers, the last team to reach the quarterfinals after beating Far Eastern U and Navy in their last two games of the eliminations, fell to 2-6, their hopes of reaching the semifinals suffering a big blow.
Unable to build on their last two victories, the Lady Patrollers showed little resistance in the first set, before Balse and Daquis took turns in puncturing their defense in the second and third frames.
Jovelyn Gonzaga chipped in 11 points for Army, which also drew a combined 17 hits from Joanne Bunag and Michelle Carolino.
Daquis and setter Tina Salak formed a virtual wall at the net as they helped neutralize Janine Marciano and Thai Patcharee Sanmuang who were held to a combined 22 points.