Army whips Cagayan, nears crown
With one dominant set, Army drew first blood last night and gained a huge psychological edge in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference best-of-three finals.
The Lady Troopers overwhelmed the defending champion Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 25-5, to move on the cusp of the title before a roaring crowd at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
While the first three sets weren’t decided until the second half of the frame, the fourth set turned out to be a one-sided affair as the Lady Troopers sent a strong statement of intent.
The 25-5 score in a set will go down as the most convincing in a finals match.
The Lady Rising Suns, who have shown resilience under pressure, couldn’t find an answer to Army’s onslaught led by Rachel Ann Daquis, a deserving winner of the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament.
Jovelyn Gonzaga, MJ Balse and Nerissa Bautista also sparkled in the Game 1 win which was fashioned out in an hour and 47 minutes.
The Lady Troopers could do no wrong on the defensive end too. A 14-block total underlined their dominance of the battle at the net.
The solid blocking unsettled the Lady Rising Suns attack which produced just 42 points on 165 attempts.
“Receive, block and defense—those were the things I told my players to remember,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman.
Army can wrap up its second Open Conference title with another win on Sunday.
Aiza Maizo and Rosemarie Vargas led Cagayan with 12 and 10 hits, respectively. No other player finished in double figures.
In contrast, the Lady Troopers had four players scoring at least 10 points led by Gonzaga with 19, including six blocks.
Both teams split the first two sets, before Lady Troopers regained their ruthless form by winning the third easily.
Earlier, Air Force moved within a win of clinching third place following a 16-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-12 victory over PLDT Home TelPad.
Maika Ortiz led the Raiders with 19 hits while Joy Cases, Judy Caballejo and Iari Yongco scattered 16, 15 and 11, respectively, for the Air Spikers, who played without coach Clarence Esteban.
In her second stint with PLDT Home Telpad, former scoring leader Dindin Santiago delivered 16.
Daquis’ third MVP award was spiced up by another best server award. Also feted were National U’s Jaja Santiago (Best Attacker), Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez (Best Scorer), Cagayan Valley’s Rhea Dimaculangan (Best Setter), PLDT’s Lizlee Pantone (Best Receiver) and Cagayan Valley’s Sheila Pineda (Best Digger).
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