Lady Stags clip Eagles, seize lead

Standings W    L
San Sebastian   3       1
Army    2    0
Air Force    2    2
Ateneo    2    2
Navy    1    1
Maynilad    1    1
Perpetual    0    4

Games Thursday
2 p.m. – Navy vs Ateneo
4 p.m. – Perpetual vs Army
6 p.m. – Maynilad vs San Sebastian

San Sebastian strung up two impressive games in the third and fourth sets and essayed a 24-26, 25-21, 25-16, 24-10 victory over a faltering Ateneo side to wrest the solo lead in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan, Tuesday.
American Lauren Ford unleashed a 27-hit performance, including 23 kills, while Thai import Jang Baulee rammed in 22 attacks to help power the Lady Stags to their third victory in four games and gain the upper-hand from the idle Army (2-0).
Baulee fired away kills that pierced through the Lady Eagles’ defense late in the third set as SSC broke away from what had appeared to be a tight contest into a rout.
Ford then took over in the next set, knocking down four of the team’s seven unanswered points to open the fourth frame while the Lady Stags’ net defense and floor coverage held to complete the romp.
It was Ateneo’s second straight defeat after a sweep of its first two games as the first conference champions dropped into a tie with a resurgent Air Force side, which nipped Perpetual Help in five, 15-25, 25-22, 25-17, 22-25, 15-9, in the first game.
Fille Cainglet and Alyssa Valdez led Ateneo with 15 and 13 hits, the bulk coming in the first two sets before they were scuttled by SSC’s solid defense upfront.
Earlier, Air Force recovered from an erratic four-set performance and re-asserted its might in the decider as it repulsed Perpetual Help, to notch its second straight win after back-to-back losses in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
Aiza Maizo followed up his 20-hit performance against Ateneo last Sunday with a 25-point explosion, including 22 attacks, while fellow guest player and former MVP Cherry Rose Macatangay slowed down a bit with 18 hits after leading the team with 25 points the last time out.
Still, those were enough to propel the team into the middle of the seven-team pack after a shaky start although at 2-2, the Air Force ladies still have a lot of polishing to do to become a title contender in the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water.
Jennifer Manzano ably backed up Maizo and Macatangay with 16 hits, including five blocks, while Liza Deramos and Amelia Guanco added eight points apiece.
The Air Force ladies, who lost their first two matches to San Sebastian and Army, looked headed for a big comeback after dropping the opening set, winning the next two frames and posting a 14-9 lead in the fourth.
But they fell into a maze of errors, enabling the Altas to get back and wrest the lead at 16-14, before thwarting their rivals with key stops on the net and superb reception to force the tournament’s second fifth-setter.
Air Force committed nine errors in the fourth, putting to naught its 14-attack, six-block effort as Perpetual, which also had six errors in the third frame, translated those Air Force miscues into points to stay alive.
Perpetual, which also dropped a heart-breaker of a five-setter to Maynilad last Thursday, drew a combined 51-hit output from Sandra delos Santos, April Sartin and Honey Tubino. But the Altas just couldn’t sustain their form and fell to 0-4.
Meanwhile, the Air Force-Perpetual game will aired on NBN-4 on Wednesday) starting at 2 p.m. and on GMA-7’s international channels GMA Pinoy TV, GMA LifeTV and GMA News TV, according to the organizing Sports Vision. The SSC-Ateneo duel will be shown on Thursday.(pr)

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