Sandugo-San Sebastian turned what was expected to be a thriller into a cruise as it steamrolled Cagayan Valley-Perpetual Help, 25-18, 25-22, 25-16, to sweep the Shakey’s V-League Open finals and capture the crown on its first try before a big Tuesday crowd at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Jeng Bualee and Utaiwan Kaensing proved too much for Kunbang Pornpimol and Sutadta Chuewulim in a battle of Thai reinforcements, combining for 26 hits against their rivals’ measly 10-hit output to anchor the Lady Stags’ imposing title-clinching victory.
It was also a breakthrough win for Bualee, who had a number of runner-up finishes with the SSC Lady Stags.
“I’m happy for Jeng, it’s her first time to win a championship here,” said coach Roger Gorayeb in Filipino. “There are those saying she’s a jinx, having not won a championship prior to this, but that’s not true since she’s been leading us to the finals before.”
Bualee, the tournament’s best scorer, was adjudged finals MVP as she made good on her promise to win one for the Lady Stags.
“I’m never discouraged by the previous setbacks,” said the Thai ace.
Suzanne Roces and former MVP Nene Bautista also dished out a pair of solid games of 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Angela Benting and Rhea Dimaculangan combined for 13 markers to underscore the Lady Stags’ domination of the Rising Suns, who never recovered from a poor opening set performance.
Except in a close second set win, it was all Sandugo show in the 74-minute contest with Bualee coming up with her most impressive game and Utaiwan providing solid back-up to help ensure the victory for the Lady Stags.
The Rising Suns, reeling from their sorry 18-25, 29-27, 14-25, 25-13, 15-7 setback in the series’ opener last Sunday, failed to neutralize the power-hitting Bualee-Kaensing combo and solid local crew. They did put up a fight in all three sets but just couldn’t sustain their momentum as Sandugo came up with answers in all Cagayan fightbacks.
The Rising Suns, behind MVP Sandra delos Santos, Honey Tubino and Pornpimol, rallied from a 3-11 deficit in the third set and pulled to within, 13-15, but the Lady Stags countered with their own run, taking four of the next five points for a 19-14 lead.
Bautista then keyed Sandugo’s fiery windup with a spike off-the-block and the Lady Stags racked up five of the next seven points to clinch the set, the match and the championship.
Tubino topscored for Cagayan with 10 hits while Joy Cases had six as Delos Santos, Pornpimol and Chuewulim groped for five points apiece.
Earlier, deposed champion Philippine Army got into the groove and swamped Ateneo in straight sets, 25-17, 25-10, 25-18, to clinch third place honors via a higher tiebreak score.
Joanne Bunag punched in 12 points, landing well-placed shots all throughout, while the rest of the gang contributed to the cause as the Lady Troopers avenged their 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 13-15 setback in the opener to force a decider.
But with Sandugo sweeping Cagayan for the crown, Army’s straight-set win gave the Troopers a big edge in the quotient system of breaking the tie.