Air Force strafes PLDT, enters Superliga finals

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 21 2014 08:32 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2014 04:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - RC Cola-Air Force outlasted PLDT Home TVolution in the decider and hacked out a 16-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12 victory to barge into the finals of the PLDT Home-Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference volleyball tournament at the Cuneta Astrodome yesterday.

Maika Ortiz unleashed four of RC Cola’s last six points to help the Raiders get past the PLDT side and book the first finals slot in the women’s division. The former UST star finished with 17 hits, including 14 kills.

Reigning champion Generika-Army and AirAsia were still disputing the other championship berth at presstime.

Ortiz also provided muscle in defense and made three blocks, the last coming in the middle of the Raiders’ blistering 7-1 run down the crucial stretch of the fifth.

Iari Yongco and Joy Cases backed Ortiz with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the Raiders rebounded strong after finishing last in the last conference of the inter-club tournament backed by PLDT Home DSL and sponsored by Mikasa, Asics, Mueller Tapes, Jinling Sports Equipment, LGR, Bench and Healthway Medical.

“Maika stepped up down the stretch,” said RC Cola-Air Force coach Clarence Esteban.

The Power Attackers scored three straight points off Louann Latigay’s furious assaults for an 11-8 advantage, Esteban called on Ortiz to patrol the net, giving the Raiders seven points, including a running spike to seal the victory.

“But aside from Maika’s strong performance, it was momentum and defense that won us the game. We foiled all of their attacks and converted those into points. PLDT is a veteran team. They know how to win big games. Good thing breaks bounced our way,” said Esteban.

PLDT’s top hitter Sue Roces dominated the first four sets with a near-perfect execution of combination plays. But when she rotated to the backline, RC Cola-Air Force took advantage of her absence as Ortiz and Cases brought damage in the frontline, paving the way for the Raiders’ hard-earned victory.

Roces finished with 16 of her 20 points on kills while Latigay chipped in 18 smashes for PLDT, which pulled off a shocking four-set win over erstwhile undefeated Petron in the quarterfinals.