MANILA, Philippines – Army showcased its might in the fourth set to dominate Cagayan Valley, 25-19, 18-25, 25-18, and 25-5, and move to within one victory of claiming the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference crown.
Before a capacity crowd at The Arena in San Juan on Thursday, Army recovered from Cagayan's second set fightback and simply overpowered their rivals in the fourth set.
Rachel Ann Daquis, named the MVP of the league prior to the game, teamed up anew with Jovelyn Gonzaga, MJ Balse and Nerissa Bautista in a remarkable display of power in the fourth set.
The Lady Troopers' defense was as formidable as their offense, holding Cagayan to five points – a record low in a championship game – and wrapping up the fourth set in only 18 minutes.
"Receive, block, defense – those were the things I told my players to remember," Army coach Rico de Guzman told the league website.
Army now has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Finals series and can wrap up their quest for a title on Sunday. If necessary, a Game 3 will be played on September 7.
In an earlier game, Air Force also moved to within a game away of clinching third place honors after beating PLDT Home TelPad in four sets.
Air Force bucked an opening set loss and the absence of their coach to carve out a 16-25, 25-23, 25-19, and 25-12 win.
Maika Ortiz led the way for Air Force with 19 hits.
DinDin Santiago again played for PLDT Home and scored 16 points, but did not get enough support from her teammates.