MANILA, Philippines - Streaking Cagayan Valley-Perpetual Help continued to dish out fine form and outplayed Philippine Navy, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19, to join Sandugo-San Sebastian and Philippine Army in the Final Four of the Shakey's V-League Open at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium yesterday.
Ateneo pulled through in a heart-stopping five-setter in the second game, coming from behind to oust Far Eastern U, 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 26-24, 18-16, to zero in on the fourth and final semifinal berth.
Alyssa Valdez rammed in a kill to shatter a 16-all count in the fifth and the Lady Eagles snatched the victory after FEU's Iris Patrona's drop shot failed to sail over the net, ending the thrilling one-hour, 59-minute encounter that the Lady Tams dominated from the start.
The win snapped Ateneo's three-game skid and improved its card to 3-4 while booting out FEU, which took its seventh straight setback in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
For a while, the Lady Tams appeared headed to stay in the fight for the last semis berth after winning the first two sets. But the first conference champions refused to give up and battle back from a series of deficits to take the next two and force the decider.
They still fell behind at 1-4 and 6-10 in the fifth but struck back behind Valdez, who finished with 25 hits, and Fille Cainglet, who had 22 points, to rack up seven straight points to seize control, 13-10.
But the Lady Tams bounced back with their own three straight points to draw level and the two teams slugged it out in what turned out to be the most tightly fought fifth set in the tournament with the Lady Eagles proving steadier to steal the win.
Earlier, Joy Cases took charge for the Rising Suns and unloaded 16 hits, including 10 kills, four aces and two blocks, while Sandra delos Santos, the league's scoring leader, tossed in 14 markers and Honey Tubino fired nine attacks and wound up with 11 points for the newcomers, who repeated their three-set romp over the Lady Sailors in the first round elims.
It was Cagayan Valley’s fourth straight victory after starting out with a 1-2 card, including a pair of five-set losses to Army and Sandugo, formalizing its semis stint in the league organized by Sports Vision with a 5-1 slate.
The Lady Stags and the Troopers took the first two Final Four seats with 6-0 and 5-1 marks, respectively, with the fourth and last spot to be disputed by Ateneo and Navy.
The Sailors failed to neutralize Cases’ superb all-around game and struggled in its offense with Ailene Suson's seven-hit effort proving to be the team's best score.
Gretchel Deposoy and Janet Serafica combined for eight kills while Mayi Prochina made six points for the Lady Sailors, who fell farther behind the fourth running Lady Eagles (3-4) at 1-6 heading into the last three playdates of the tournament backed by Accel and Mikasa.
The Rising Suns, who never dropped a set since losing to Army in five last Aug. 24, blasted 41 kills as against the Sailors' 25, made eight blocks against their rivals' three and cashed in on Navy's poor reception with 12 service aces.
With the locals taking charge, Thai reinforcements Kunbang Pornpimol and Sutadta Chuewulim provided the supporting role and combined for 15 hits to help complete Cagayan's 69-minute romp.
The win and the streak should also boost the Rising Suns' confidence as they try to get even with the defending champion Lady Troopers tomorrow (Tuesday).