Cagayan sweeps Army for Shakey’s V-League crown
Cagayan Valley regained its fiery form just in time to outlast Philippine Army, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17, 20-25, 15-9, and rule the Shakey’s V-League Third Conference before a huge Sunday crowd at Filoil Flying V Arena.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas pumped in a game-high 25 points, but it was Thai import Patcharee Saengmuang who sparkled in the fifth set as the Rising Suns completed a sweep of the Lady Troopers in their best-of-three series.
It was Cagayan’s second title in as many years in the V-League, counting its Open Conference conquest that was highlighted by a 16-match sweep of the tournament.
Earlier, Instituto Estetico Manila forced a winner-take-all match in the men’s finals with a gutsy 19-25, 25-19, 13-25, 25-21, 15-13 victory over Systema Tooth and Gum Care in Game 2.
Jeff Jimenez finished with 17 points, including a block that sent the Volley Masters to match point, while Jason Canlas wound up with 16 hits.
The Volley Masters gave their title bid a lifeline despite subpar efforts in the first and third sets. But they showed steely resolve as the game went down the wire, finishing off the Active Smashers in two hours and six minutes.
Game 3 of the men’s finals is set on Sunday, Nov. 16.
The road to the title was an uphill climb right from the start for the Lady Rising Suns who managed to get transfer clearance for their Thai imports only in the second round of the tournament.
But ranged against a formidable Army squad that also swept Cagayan in the All-Filipino tournament last August, the Lady Rising Suns played with urgency, flashing a more menacing attack.
“It’s a nice way to get back after our loss to them (Army) last time,” said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar. “I’m proud of the players. They worked hard and never complained. They deserve to be champions.”
“We didn’t want a Game 3 because we’re tired already,” said Maizo, named Finals Most Valuable Player.
The Lady Rising Suns looked deflated after yielding the fourth set easily and falling into an early 0-3 hole in the decider. But Maizo and Saengmuang combined for consecutive hits that brought Cagayan back to life.
Jovelyn Gonzaga gave Army its last taste of the lead at 6-5 before Saengmuang stole the show with her power game.
Three more Army errors pushed the Cagayan lead to 9-6. Saengmuang fired four of the next five points with her kill putting the Rising Suns at championship point which was converted when Rachel Daquis sprayed the second ball wide.
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