Lady Troopers dim Suns, share lead
MANILA, Philippines - Rachel Ann Daquis returned from a one-game absence to fire 18 hits and help power Army past Cagayan Valley, 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-16, and back into a share of the lead with idle PLDT Home Telpad in the quarterfinal round of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Daquis, sidelined by an injury in the Lady Troopers’ 1-3 loss to the Air Force Raiders last Tuesday, combined with Nene Bautista, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Mary Jane Balse as the Season 8 champions overpowered the defending champions, 58-50, to notch their seventh win against two losses and tie the Turbo Boosters again at the helm in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
The victory also avenged Army’s stinging 1-3 loss to Cagayan Valley last July 24 that snapped the former’s five-win streak in the elimination round of the event backed by Mikasa and Accel.
“We just did what we do best, which is attack, attack and attack,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman in Pilipino.
Ateneo continued its own surge from the back of the pack as it bounced back from 1-2 down to sweep the last two sets and stun Air Force, 25-21, 22-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-9, and bolster its bid for the last semifinal berth with a 4-5 card.
Alyssa Valdez pumped in another 29-hit game while Amy Ahomiro and Miren Gequillana each shot 15 markers and Bea de Leon added 11 points for the Lady Eagles, who closed in on the fourth-running Raiders with three games left for the reigning UAAP champions.
It was Valdez’s fifth straight game where she scored over 26 points while Ateneo played its third straight match that went the full distance, winning the last two.
Maika Ortiz scored 20 hits while Joy Cases and Judy Caballejo backed her up with 15 and 12 points, respectively. But the Raiders failed to neutralize Valdez, Ahomiro and Gequillana in the decider and took their fourth loss against six wins.
While Bautista and Daquis dominated the net with their power hits, Gonzaga and Tina Salak took care of the net defense, combining for six of their team’s 11 blocks.
“Aside from some defensive mistakes in the first and fourth sets, we generally did good in executing our defensive game plan,” said de Guzman.
Aiza Maizo led all hitters with 20 points while Rosemarie Vargas scattered 13 markers but Cagayan failed to draw no more than nine hits from the rest of the team, dropping the Rising Suns to third with a 6-2 card, further muddling up the semifinal race.
After taking the tightly fought opening set, Army went to Bautista and Balse, who took over late in the second frame to rout the Rising Suns for a 2-0 set lead.
But Cagayan, which posted a record 16-0 mark to sweep last year’s crown, struck back in the third, breaking a 21-all count and winning the all but one of the next five points, including a Wenneth Eulalio kills from center, to extend the match.
Maizo drilled in two straight kills as Cagayan forced a 10-all count in the fourth before the Lady Troopers went on an attack mode again while firming up their net defense to shut out the Rising Suns’ hitters.