Army battled back from an opening set setback and a six-point deficit in the third as it hacked out a tough 23-25, 25-18, 25-23, 26-24 victory over Ateneo to boost its bid for No. 1 while stalling the Lady Eagles’ march to the semifinals again in the Shakey’s V-League Open at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium Sunday.
The Lady Troopers bucked the absence of Jovelyn Gonzaga as Michelle Carolino stepped up to fire 24 hits, including 18 kills, while Jacqueline Alarca and Rachelle Ann Daquis combined for 27 points for the defending champions, who stayed in the hunt for the top spot in the Final Four.
The setback was the Lady Eagles’ sixth against three wins, enabling the Navy Sailors to stay in the fight for the fourth semis seat despite the latter’s four-set loss to Far Eastern U in the earlier match.
The Lady Tams finally notched their first win after a streak of eight losses, beating the Sailors, 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-23. Navy, which also foiled Ateneo in four last Tuesday, dropped to 2-7 but remained in the race for the last berth in the tournament sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
But to force a playoff, Navy must beat Sandugo-San Sebastian in the final elims playdate tomorrow and hope that Ateneo loses to Cagayan. The Lady Eagles, who were led by Fille Cainglet’s 21 points, will advance outright with a victory over the Rising Suns.
Meanwhile, the FEU-Navy match will be showed on AKTV starting at 8 tonight while the Army-Ateneo duel will be aired tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 p.m., according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Angeline Tabaquero took charge for FEU in the fourth set, scoring the last three points, including a powerful blast off a side attack that the Lady Sailors failed to return, ending a long rally marked by spectacular saves that kept the big Sunday crowd on the edge of their seats.
Tabaquero wound up with 21 hits while drawing solid backup from Thai reinforcement Sangmuang Patcharee, Wenneth Eulalio, Mary Palma and the steady Ivy Remulla, who combined for 53 points to help notch the elusive victory in the penultimate playdate of the double round elims of the event backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Kiteh Rosale topscored for Navy with 12 hits while Ailene Suson and Mayi Prochina each had 10 points for the Sailors, who refused to give up in the fourth set, scoring three straight points to force an 18-all count.
But the Tams countered with their own three-hit binge, capped by another Tabaquero attack that made it 21-18 before Eulalio came through with one kill against Navy’s two hits. Tabaquero, who also had four blocks, then scored back-to-back hits to give FEU a 24-20 cushion but Navy struck back again with three straight points, including a service ace, to close within at 23-24.
Patcharee, playing in only her second game, finished with 16 points, highlighted by 13 spikes, while Eulalio added 13 hits and Remulla and Palma each had 12 points.