MANILA, Philippines - Janine Marciano stepped up to fire 17 hits as Cagayan Valley finally showed its true worth and beat Air Force, 28-26, 25-20, 25-20, yesterday to clinch the third Final Four berth while sending the Raiders to a playoff with the Ateneo side for the last semis seat in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Marciano atoned for her so-so showing in the quarters that saw the Rising Suns drop their first four matches and into the brink of elimination from the tournament they ruled via a record 16-game sweep last year, coming through with a 15-attack game and two aces to complement with top hitter Aiza Maizo’s solid 13-point performance.
Army pulled through in a fiercely-fought third set to seize control then dominated PLDT Home Telpad in the fourth to fashion out a 15-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-15 victory and nail the top spot in the Final Four.
The Lady Troopers, winners here in Season 8, wound up with a 9-3 card and will face the winner in the knockout duel between Ateneo and Air Force in the best-of-three semis which starts Thursday.
The Turbo Boosters, who ended up No. 2 at 8-4, will take on No. 3 Cagayan in the other side of the semis in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
With Marciano and Maizo alternating on attacks, the Rising Suns took control early in each set although the defending champions had to thwart the Raiders’ repeated fightbacks, particularly in the opening frame that went down-to-the-wire.
“Marciano and Maizo stepped up, they keyed this win,” said Cagayan Valley coach Nes Pamilar.
“We knew of the urgency to win so we came here to win convincingly and not complicate things anymore,” he added.
The win thus checked Cagayan’s skid for a closing 7-5 card, the same slates put in by Ateneo and Air Force at the close of the quarters phase.