Cagayan Valley-Perpetual Help neutralized Army’s vaunted firepower with a solid net defense while Thai reinforcements Kunbang Pornpimol and Sutadta Chuewulim stepped up to power the Rising Suns to a 23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 victory over the Lady Troopers in the Shakey’s V-League Open at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium yesterday.
The Thai duo produced a whopping 37-hit output while Joy Cases provided every bit of offense and defense and finished with 17 points, including the match-clinching spike that wrapped-up the one-hour, 46-minute encounter and gave the streaking Cagayan side a share of second with its victim at 6-2.
The win kept the Rising Suns in the hunt for the No. 1 spot although Sandugo-San Sebastian remained in the lead at 6-1 despite being stopped on its tracks by Army in five last Sunday.
Philippine Navy, led by Kiteh Rosale’s 19 hits, staved off elimination as it repulsed an undermanned Ateneo side, 25-21, 19-25, 27-25, 25-23, to remain in the fight for the fourth and last final four berth.
With a 2-6 card, the Lady Sailors closed in on the fourth-running Lady Eagles (3-5), heading to the last two playdates of the double-round elims.
Ateneo, the first conference champion, will play two tough teams in Army and Cagayan in its final two games while Navy will go up against ousted FEU and Sandugo.
Rosale unloaded 17 kills while Mayi Prochina backed her up with 11 attacks and Ailene Suson delivered 10 points for the Lady Saliors, who snapped a three-game skid.
Alyssa Valdez and Ella de Jesus came up with identical 23 hits while Dzi Gervacio added 16 markers but the Lady Eagles sorely missed the services of top-hitter Fille Cainglet and libero Dennise Lazaro.
With the troika of Pornpimol, Chuewulim and Cases rising to the challenge, Sandra delos Santos, the league’s scoring leader, played the supporting role and helped defend the net with Cases, coming up with three blocks and finishing with eight markers.
Cases also had three blocks and two service aces to clinch the best player of the game honors in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
The Rising Suns’ defense upfront held the Troopers to 42 spikes while pouring in 53 attacks of their own as the league’s newcomers dominated the defending champions from the start in a duel of early semifinalists.
They took a 6-0 lead in the opener then built a 14-4 bulge before blowing it all in the face of the Troopers’ fiery comeback. But the Rising Suns re-grouped and held their ground in the next three, outlasting their rivals in see-saw battles to extend their win run to five and avenge its five-set loss last Aug. 24.
Jovelyn Gonzaga took charge for the Troopers with 16 hits while Jacqueline Alarca added 10 markers. Rachel Ann Daquis, a double-digit artist, struggled with nine hits while Joanne Bunag and Marietta Carolino chipped in seven and six points, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Ateneo-FEU and Army-Sandugo matches will be aired on AKTV starting at 5 p.m. today, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
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