Ailing Valdez lifts PLDT past Army in V-League semis
VOLLEYBALL star Alyssa Valdez was not feeling well yet she delivered unbelievable numbers as the unbeaten PLDT Home Ultera inched closer to the championship round Sunday in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference.
Valdez exploded for 35 points—including more than half of PLDT’s 65 total attacks—to lift the Ultra Fast Hitters past Philippine Army in a thrilling five-setter, 25-21, 24-26, 20-26, 26-24, 15-12, in the single-round semifinals at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Battling colds, Valdez teamed up with Jaja Santiago and Gretchel Soltones in the deciding set to lead the Ultra Fast Hitters’ huge fightback from a 1-2 set deficit.
“She’s not feeling good the past couple of weeks,” PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb said of Valdez. “But in the fourth and fifth sets, she really showed her game.”
PLDT, the semifinal leader at 2-0, also stretched its unbeaten run to nine games.
Army slipped to 1-1 in a tie with Cagayan Valley, which kept its own semifinal hopes alive with a sweep of Meralco, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21, in the other match.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas fired all of her 21 points off attacks to pace the Lady Rising Suns.
League officials said the Ultra Fast Hitters could have clinched the first championship slot had it won over the Lady Troopers by three or four sets.
Valdez—who bounced back from a paltry eight-point outing in their 25-22, 25-14, 25-23 win over the Lady Rising Suns in the semifinal opener—fired three straight hits to open the fifth set, where the two-time UAAP MVP tallied nine points.
Santiago also shone with 20 points, including six of the Ultra Fast Hitters’ 11 aces.
Soltones, the reigning NCAA MVP, sealed the match by scoring the Ultra Fast Hitters’ final two points for a 10-point output like veteran Suzanne Roces.
“Army is a very experienced team and it really showed in this match,” said Gorayeb.
Jovelyn Gonzaga had 14 points to lead the Lady Troopers, who failed to wrap it up in the fourth as the Ultra Fast Hitters stole the set by overcoming match point at 26-24 behind Valdez and Santiago.
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