Philippine Army captures V-League title as it sweeps San Sebastian
MANILA—Steadier when it mattered, Philippine Army fought back from a set down to outlast San Sebastian, 27-25, 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-10, Thursday night and nail the Shakey’s V-League Season 8 Open Conference before a huge crowd at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Made up of standouts from the national team, the Army produced a peerless performance to overcome a gritty stand by San Sebastian in an hour and 58 minutes and complete a 2-0 series win for its first V-League crown.
The former Far Eastern U star, who also fired 14 points in the series opener, was later named Most Valuable Player of the finals.
“We wanted to make Army proud,” said Army coach Rico De Guzman. “We did not expect alot because we were newcomers in the V-League. But we were motivated by the goal of bringing honor to Army.”
Ateneo earlier clinched third place via a 24-25, 24-20, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10 victory over Philippine Navy to seal a sweep of the three-game series.
Army flaunted a balanced attack with Mary Jean Balse contributing 19 points, Marietta Carolino firing 14, Michelle Carolino hitting 11 and Joanne Bunag finishing with 10 points.
Tina Salak had 60 excellent sets on top of seven points for the Lady Troopers, who had 15 service points.
Installed as an early favorite because of its deep and talented roster, Army lived up to the hype by winning 13 of its 15 games in the tournament, including the title clincher last night.
It was another bitter end for the Lady Stags, who were hoping to snap a string of heartbreaks in the V-League. The Lady Stags have only one title to show in eight finals appearances in the V-League.
And up until the final point, cramps-stricken Jeng Bualee, the long-time Lady Stags import who has never won a title in the V-League, was fighting for San Sebastian.
The Thai reinforcement sent her smash to the wire at match point. Losing her balance, Bualee, who wound up with 28 hits, watched helplessly as Army whopped it up on the other side of the court.
Lauren Ford pumped in 27 markers for San Sebastian, but she struggled to combine with Rubie de Leon in the crucial stretches of the match.
A set down in the fourth set, Daquis’ powerful serve proved to be Army’s saving grace.
Daquis drilled in three aces to turn an 8-10 deficit to a 14-10 lead. She also drove in back-to-back aces to put Army ahead 24-23, before Michelle Carolino forced the deciding set with a down-the-line smash.
Carrying the momentum of their fourth-set triumph, the Lady Troopers raced to a 6-1 lead to start the fifth set, before San Sebastian came within, 10-13, when Carolino’s hit found the net. A service error by Jill Gustilo put Army at champuionship point.
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