MANILA, Philippines – Air Force swept Ateneo in straight sets, 25-20, 25-22, and 25-22, to end the Lady Eagles' winning streak and nail the last Final Four berth in the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
With Maika Ortiz serving as decoy, Judy Caballejo led a balanced scoring attack for Air Force with 11 points and Liza Deramos, May Ann Pantino and Joy Cases also came up with solid games to help the Air Spikers oust the reigning UAAP champions.
Air Force also held Alyssa Valdez, the league's leading scorer, to only 18 points after averaging 26 points per game in the season.
Ateneo had forced a do-or-die game for the final semis berth by sweeping the quarter-finals, but were neutralized by an Air Force squad that registered eight block points.
"We know that Maika is heavily guarded by tall players like Valdez and (Amy) Ahomiro, so I told her to go to our open spikers more often," said Air Force coach Clarence Esteban of their game plan. "Good thing our plan worked."
Air Force thus assumed the fourth spot and will take on the top-seeded Army team, while No. 2 PLDT Home Telpad and defending champion Cagayan, the third seed, will clash in a pair of best-of-three duels starting tomorrow.
After finishing the eliminations with only a 2-5 win-loss record, Valdez and the Lady Eagles won all five games in the quarter-finals to earn a shot at a Final Four spot.
Air Force ended their run in emphatic fashion, however, seizing control in the early parts of all three sets before fending off Ateneo's repeated comebacks in the end game.