SSC, Army seek to seal title clash

Games Thursday
2 p.m. – Navy vs SSC
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs Army

San Sebastian and Philippine Army go for a sweep of their respective Final Four duels with Navy and Ateneo on Thursday as they try to seal a keenly awaited showdown for the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Stags and the Troopers essayed a pair of straight-set victories in the opener of a pair of best-of-three semis last Sunday. And unless the Lady Sailors and the Eagles could come up with an antidote to their respective rivals’ power games, there could be no stopping the SSC-Army face-off for the league’s inaugural Open championship.
SSC tries to seal the deal first at 2 p.m. with the Lady Stags out to repeat their tough 25-20, 34-32, 25-22 triumph over the Sailors.
The Troopers, on the other hand, hope to end the Eagles’ bid for a sweep of the season’s twin titles as they seek for a follow-up to their 25-10, 25-21, 25-19 romp in their 4 p.m. encounter.
The three-day respite, however, should’ve given Navy and Ateneo enough time to make the necessary adjustment and plot a new set of strategies to neutralize their rivals’ strength on the net while enhancing their own offensive play-patterns.
Lauren Ford will remain the Navy’s biggest problem with the American import again expected to lead the Stags’ impending march to the finals of the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
The league’s No. 1 scorer with an 18.9-point clip is also the leading spiker (49.88 percent success) and the top blocker (0.80 per set), making her the top candidate for MVP honors in the conference backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water.
Navy is actually tops in digs (12.65 per set) and setting (13.08 per set) but must draw the best from former MVPs Nene Bautista and Suzanne Roces if the Sailors were to live another day.
So do the Lady Eagles, who are faced with the giant task of defusing the Troopers awesome firepower provided by sisters Michelle and Marietta Carolino, Mary Jean Balse, Joanne Buñag and the talented Rachel Ann Daquis.
Ateneo actually has two players – Alyssa Valdez (16.3) and Fille Cainglet (15.8) – in the top three in scoring and has the leading setter in Jamenea Ferrer (10.91 per set). But the first conference champions just couldn’t pull it off together although they hope to get the job done this time to remain in the hunt for a second title in the league organized by Sports Vision.
Meanwhhile, the SSC-Navy match will be telecast at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) while the Army-Ateneo game will be shown Saturday on NBN-4 and GMA-7’s international channels GMA Pinoy TV, GMA LifeTV and GMA News TV.(pr)

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