Sandugo-San Sebastian squandered a 2-0 set lead but regrouped in time to frustrate a hard-fighting Cagayan Valley side, 25-23, 25-22, 15-25, 21-25, 15-10, and grab the solo lead in the Shakey’s V-League Open at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium yesterday.
Thai ace Jeng Bualee took charge when the going got tough, blasting away kills in the decider en route to a 22-hit performance. Her last attack ended a grueling one-hour, 56-minute duel between the league’s opening day winners.
Nene Bautista bounced back from a nine-point game against Ateneo with a 16-hit production, including two service aces and one block, and later took the best player of the game honors.
“I still have to work on my defense and as a team, I think we still have so much work to do,” said Bautista, a former league MVP.
Later in the night, Ateneo rebounded from a loss to Sandugo with a 25-11, 25-21, 25-19 victory over Philippine Navy to tie Cagayan Valley at 1-1.
Fille Cainglet unloaded 17 hits, including 12 kills, while Alyssa Valdez and Dzi Gervacio combined for 22 points as both took a break in the second frame as Ateneo coach Parley Tupaz tried out different combinations.
The Navy ladies, who drew 19 points from Kiteh Rosale, Mayi Prochina and Marilou Galido, dropped to 0-2 in the double round robin elims among six teams.
Utaiwan Kaensing, another Thai reinforcement, finished with 11 points, including two blocks, for Sandugo-SSC, which swept first conference champion Ateneo, 27-25, 25-19, 25-20, in last Sunday’s opener of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
“Individually, they’re strong but still needs time to become cohesive,” said Sandugo-SSC coach Roger Gorayeb of his star-studded team in Filipino. “But I’m not a bit worried since it’s too early in the tournament and they have all the time to adjust to their respective games.”
The Lady Stags proved steadier in the end, pouncing on the Rising Suns’ error to move to the match point, 14-9, before Bualee, foiled in her first crack to wrap up the match, delivered the clincher with an overpowering hit off Shyrra Cabriana.
Sandugo-SSC actually struggled in the first two sets but each time played with poise at endgame to hold off Cagayan and prime itself up for another sweep in the early going of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Accel and Mikasa.
But down, 0-2, the league’s newcomers rose to the challenge and finally neutralized the Lady Stags with their superb all-around game with Thai Sutadta Chuewulim spearheading the attack in the next two sets to force a decider.
Cagayan actually finished with 15 blocks against Sandugo’s six but was overwhelmed by the Lady Stags’ slew of power hitters, who combined for 60 kills against Cagayan’s 52.
But Sandugo came out strong in the fifth set, posting a 9-6 lead off back-to-back kills by Bautista and Utaiwan before winning six of the last 10 points.
Chuewulim finished with 18 kills while Delos Santos also dished out 18 points, highlighted by nine blocks and four aces while Royse Tubino had 13 kills for 17 points in the match delayed for almost an hour due to confusion on the schedule’s last-minute changes.