Jude Ann Caballejo of Air Force (right) fires away a kill against Army’s Jovelyn Gonzaga during their Shakey’s V-League Open Conference clash at The Arena in San Juan.(photo release)
Army flaunted its superb defensive prowess to dispose of Air Force, 25-13, 25-22, 25-18, and serve notice of its title bid in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Outhit by the Air Women, 35-37, the Army Women leaned on their net defense to neutralize their rivals, coming through with 11 blocks, including six from Jovelyn Gonzaga to fashion out the straight-set victory.
Army debuted without some of its stars but Gonzaga, Davao del Norte native Mary Jean Balse, Joanne Bunag, Cristina Salak, Jacqueline Alarca, Michelle Carolino and libero Patricia Torres hardly felt their absence and got the job done just the same in 71 minutes.
Gonzaga came away with 16 hits, Balse tossed in 11 and skipper Bunag and setter Salak chipped in nine points apiece for the Army Women, who also boast of Rachel Anne Daquis, Nene Bautista, Ma. Theresa Iratay, Dahlia Cruz and Marietta Carolino.
Army also scored heavily off the serve, delivering eight aces, including four from Balse, as the Troopers overcame the Air Women’s advantage in non-scoring skills – dig (25-34), set (22-25) and reception (10-17) – to hurdle their first match in the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
It was a sorry setback for Air Force, which rallied to seize a 19-17 edge in the second set only to blow it as Gonzaga took charge to turn things around for Army.
Air Force kept it close in the third, forcing a 10-all count but Army re-stamped its class to pull away and deal the Air Women’s second straight setback after a four-set loss to Cagayan Province last Friday.
Joy Cases and Jennifer Manzano scored nine hits apiece for Air Force, which also drew eight points from Maika Ortiz and a combined 15-point output from Wendy Semana, Judy Ann Caballejo, Iari Yongco, Rhea Dimaculangan and skipper Liza de Ramos.
The Cagayan-Air Force duel last Friday will be aired on GMA News TV Channel 11 at 1 p.m. today while yesterday’s Army-Air Force clash will be telecast tomorrow. The Smart-Meralco clash, being played at presstime, will be shown on Wednesday, according to the organizing Sports Vision.(pr)