Philippine Army slugs it out with Air Force in a keen duel on Saturday, seeking its third straight win and a playoff for a semifinal berth in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Army swept its first two matches in the single round quarters, holding off Navy and Ateneo to zero in on a semis seat with joint leader San Sebastian with the Lady Troopers hoping to repeat over the Airwomen in the 4 p.m. encounter and assure themselves of a playoff for the last semis seat.
But the Airwomen are expected to rebound from their straight-set loss to the Lady Stags last week and stay in the semis race of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and organized by Sports Vision.
In a duel of struggling teams, Maynilad and Ateneo collide in the 2 p.m. opener, each out to snap a five-game skid dating back to the elims of the tournament backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water.
Army has been dishing out solid games to emerge a title favorite, leading the league in spikes, blocks and sets departments.
Led by sisters Michelle and Marietta Carolino, Joanne Buñag and the talented Rachel Ann Daquis, the Lady Troopers hammered out 427 spikes out of 1,202 attempts in eight games for a 35.55 percent norm. SSC is second with 380 spikes from 1,123 attempts for a 33.84 percent performance.
The Troopers are also tops in blocks with 72 off kills with the Airwomen in second with 53. Army has also put together 375 and 653 running and still sets, respectively, for a 12.50 average per set.
But Air Force will try to neutralize Army’s power and cohesion with its own brand of game behind Aiza Maizo, Jennifer Manzano, Liza Deramos, Wendy Semana, Amelia Guanco and Cherry May Vivas.
Focus will also be on the Ateneo-Maynilad duel with the first conference champions out to regain their winning ways and the lone commercial team hoping to draw the best from the likes of Joy Cases, Nica Guliman, Mervic Mangui, Beverly Boto and Syvie Artates.
The Lady Eagles, led by Fille Cainglet, Alyssa Valdez and Dzi Gervacio, started out strong with back-to-back wins in the elims but lost their next five games, including a four-setter to the Troopers last Thursday.
The top four teams after the single round quarters will advance to the Final Four with the No. 1 team clashing with No. 4 and Nos. 2 squaring off with No. 3 in a pair of best-of-three duels for the championship berths.
Meanwhile, the Maynilad-Ateneo match will be aired on Monday at 2 p.m. on NBN-4 and on GMA-7’s international channels GMA Pinoy TV, GMA LifeTV and GMA News TV.(pr)