MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Army rebounded from its five-set setback to unbeaten Sandugo-San Sebastian as it bested an undermanned Ateneo side, 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, to firm up its hold of second place at the close of the first round elims of the Shakey’s V-League Open at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium late Tuesday night.
The Lady Troopers bucked the Lady Eagles’ tough net defense with their power game that produced 57 kills although the Lady Eagles, who turned in 42 kills, made nine blocks, including five by new student-recruit Amy Ahomiro from New Zealand.
The victory thus raised the defending champions’ record to 4-1 halfway through the double-round elims of the mid-season offering of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Ateneo, winner of the league’s ninth season’s first conference, slid to 2-3 and remained in fourth place, still way ahead of Navy (1-4) and Far Eastern U (0-5), its rivals for the last berth in the Final Four.
Resurgent newcomer Cagayan Valley improved to 3-2 for third after a sweep of its last two matches against Ateneo and Navy and remained a strong contender for the crown in the league organized by Sports Vision.
Michelle Carolino, the third leading scorer in the early going of the league, fired 20 kills while Jacqueline Alarca, the team’s top shot block artist, showed her offensive prowess and unloaded 13 hits for Army in a three-set stint.
Rachel Ann Daquis backed up the duo with 10 markers while Joanne Bunag, Teresa Iratay, Marietta Carolino and Melody Gutierrez combined for 20 points for the Lady Troopers.
Top hitter Alyssa Valdez played true to form and dished out a 21-kill performance while Ahomiro, who has completed her residency with the school, churned out a 10-point game.
Except in the opening set, Ateneo gutted it out with Army in the next three despite the absence of key players Fille Cainglet, who averaged 10 hits in the first four games, and Dzi Gervacio, who normed nine points,
The Lady Eagles took the third set to avert a sweep but they sorely missed the added firepower from Cainglet and Gervacio, who both had exams.