SSC, Army sweep rivals, seal title duel

Games Sunday
2 p.m. – Ateneo vs Navy (best-of-three for third)
Awards rites
4 p.m. – Army vs SSC (best-of-three for title)

San Sebastian and Army came away with another pair of straight-set victories over Navy and Ateneo, respectively, Thursday to arrange a much-awaited showdown for the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Stags leaned on Thai import Jang Baulee to subdue the Lady Sailors, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19, while the Lady Troopers held off a gritty Ateneo side, 25-19, 25-21, 25-22, to sweep their respective Final Four duels.
SSC and Army begin their best-of-three title series on Sunday.
Baulee finally took over for the Lady Stags after playing back-up to American Lauren Ford majority of the team’s campaign in the season-ending conference of the league, firing hits, including 21 kills.
Ford, the league’s leading scorer and spiker with an 18.9-point norm, still came through with 10 attacks while Jennifer Manzano scored three service aces and finished with 12 points for the Recoletos-based squad which is seeking its first-ever crown in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
SSC, which also swept Navy, 25-20, 34-32, 25-22, in the opener of their best-of-three series last Sunday, also bucked the presence of former MVP Aiza Maizo, who took the spot of the injured Nene Bautista in the Navy roster.
But Maizo failed to steer the team to the all-important victory although she still came out with a team-high 17 points, including 15 kills.
Suzanne Roces had 14 hits while Cecile Cruzada and Michelle Laborte combined for 15 points for the Lady Sailors, who lost steam in a tightly-fought first set but lost its poise in the face of the Lady Stags’ superb all-around game in the next two.
Army showcased its awesome firepower with five players churning out double-digit scores, led by Rachel Ann Daquis’ 11. Joanne Buñag, Mary Jean Balse, Cristina Salak and Michelle Carolino all had 10 points.
Fille Cainglet rammed in 19 hits while Alyssa Valdez added 11 points for the first conference champion Ateneo, which saw its bid for a sweep of the twin titles go up in smoke.
The Lady Troopers, who also beat the Lady Eagles in their first game, 25-10, 25-21, 25-19, finished with 46 attacks and seven blocks as against the Eagles’ 41 kills and six blocks but proved steadier in the clutch in all three sets.
Baulee sustained a game-long brilliance, pouring in her last six points in the third set where the Stags built an early 16-10 lead en route to a 62-minute victory.
SSC coach Roger Gorayeb also drew 42 excellent sets from Rubie de Leon and a combined 16-point output from Joy Benito, Dafna Robinos and de Leon to complete their domination of the one of the three military teams in the league backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water.
The SSC-Navy match will be telecast at 2 p.m. today (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, according to the organized Sports Vision.(pr)

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