MANILA, Philippines - PLDT Home Telpad smashed its way to a third straight win without dropping a set, dealing Cagayan Valley its first loss since sweeping last year’s crown with a tough 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 victory to seize the solo lead in the Shakey’s V-League Season II Open Conference resumption at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
The Power Attackers outsteadied the Rising Suns in fiercely-fought first two sets then kept their unbeaten run with a strong finishing kick in the third to wrap up the one-hour, 20-minute battle of power, reception and nerves.
“We put up a good defensive job and reception,” said PLDT Home Telpad coach Roger Gorayeb after steering the team to another straight set win after sweeping the Katipunan-based squads UP and Ateneo.
Laurence Ann Latigas and Gretchel Soltones combined for 27 hits, including three blocks, while Suzanne Roces, Rubie de Leon, Ryzabelle Devanadera and Charo Soriano pooled 28 points to help preserve the league’s newest but powerhouse team’s run in the early going of the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Aiza Maizo pounded 13 hits while Angeli Tabaquero added 10 points for Cagayan, which posted a record sweep of 16 games to capture last year’s crown. The Rising Suns actually stretched that streak to 17 with a straight-set romp over PNP last Thursday but dropped to joint fifth with Ateneo with the loss.
Earlier, Air Force smothered UP with its power game as it fashioned out a 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 victory to get back on the winning track.
Foiled by the fancied Army Lady Troopers last Sunday, the Raiders vented their ire on the Lady Maroons, unloading 53 kills, 20 more than their rivals, to complete their straight-set victory in 80 minutes.
Air Force, which also swept PNP last week, improved to 2-1 while dampening UP’s quarterfinal hopes with a fourth straight loss in the single round robin elims of the tournament backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Meanwhile, the Air Force-UP duel will be shown today (Wednesday) on GMA News TV Channel starting at 1 p.m. with the PLDT Home Telpad-Cagayan Valley clash to be aired tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
May Ann Pantino and Maika Ortiz fired 10 hits apiece while Jocie Tapic, Jennifer Manzano and Judy Caballejo combined for 22 markers in two-set stints as Air Force coach Clarence Esteban used new combinations while resting former MVP Sandra delos Santos and libero Jill Gustilo.
“I gave all my players the needed exposure. In fact, I didn’t use a time out and let them make the adjustment inside the court,” said Esteban.
Katherine Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon unloaded 11 hits apiece while Pauline Araneta added 10 points for the Diliman-based squad, which kept the game close in all three sets but just couldn’t pull it off in the end.
In contrast, the Raiders proved steadier at endgames with Ortiz and Pantino taking charge, Mary Ann Balmaceda anchoring the team’s reception and Rhea Dimaculangan providing the set plays to put the Raiders back in the groove.
Joy Cases and Liza Deramos only saw action in the opening frame and scored five hits each while Iari Yongco also tossed in five markers while playing in the first and third sets.
Though Bersola, Tiamzon and Araneta continued to dish out solid games, the same could not be said on the rest of the team with Arrianne Ilustre adding six markers and Jewel Lai and Monica Ortiz combining for just three points for UP, which however nipped Air Force in blocks, 7-6.