PLDT nails semis seat; Ateneo forces playoff

The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 15 2014 05:19 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2014 01:20 AM

MANILA, Philippines - PLDT Home Telpad held off Cagayan Valley in each of the three sets and carved out a hard-earned 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 victory to clinch the second Final Four berth while further dimming the Suns’ own semis chances in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.

Ateneo completed its stirring sweep of the quarters, outlasting National U in another five-setter, 26-28, 25-19, 16-25, 25-16, 15-7, to finish with a 7-5 slate and assure itself of a playoff for the last semis berth.

What made the Lady Eagles’ surge amazing was that they won three of their last four games via five sets, underscoring the team’s big fighting heart after a woeful 2-5 stint in the elims.

The Katipunan-based squad rebounded strong after dropping the first and third sets then wore down the Lady Bulldogs in the decider, taking an early 7-3 and 10-4 leads. NU stayed within, 7-11, but Ateneo swept the next four points to wrap up the one-hour, 53-minute encounter.

The Lady Bulldogs, who upset the Rising Suns in five last Tuesday, wound up with a 4-8 mark.

League scoring leader Alyssa Valdez unloaded a monster 32-hit game, including six blocks and seven aces, while Bea de Leon delivered a gem of a game with 16 hits, including three blocks, for Ateneo, which also drew nine points from Miren Gequillana and a combined 16-hit output from Amy Ahomiro, Michelle Morente and Julia Morado.

Four players churned out double-digit scores for NU with Jaja Santiago pumping in 18, Rizza Mandapat firing 16, Myla Pablo hitting 15 and Desiree Dadang adding 12.

Former MVP Sue Roces hammered in 18 smashes and added two blocks and ace to finish with 21 hits while Laurence Ann Latigay fired 12 hits after norming 8.9 points in 10 matches and Gretchel Soltones added 10 markers for the Turbo Boosters, who joined the Army Lady Troopers in the semis with similar 8-3 cards.

They dispute the top spot on Sunday at the close of the quarterfinal round of the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel.

Cagayan Valley absorbed its fourth straight loss in the quarters and dropped to 6-5, making its match with Air Force (7-4) on Sunday a must-win to keep its title-retention bid alive.

If Cagayan wins in three sets, it will advance to the semis while Ateneo and Air Force will dispute the last spot in a playoff.

If the Rising Suns prevail in five, the Lady Eagles will clinch the third semis spot with the former and the Raiders facing off in a knockout duel for the last berth.

The Rising Suns, who scored a record 16-game sweep to clinch the crown last year, kept it close in all three sets but just couldn’t neutralize the Turbo Boosters’ strong windups, falling to their fourth straight defeat after tying for first after the elims.