Army thwarts Smart, keeps No. 2

Standings             W             L

Cagayan            7           0
Army                        5            1
Air Force            4           2
Smart                        4            3
Meralco            3            3
Navy                         1            5
PNP                        0            5
FEU                        0            5
Games tomorrow
2 p.m. – PNP vs FEU
4 p.m. – Air Force vs Meralco
Army spoiled Ateno star Alyssa Valdez’s explosive debut as it eked out a thrilling 25-22, 25-19, 22-25, 20-25, 15-13 victory over Smart-Maynilad to move closer to unbeaten Cagayan Province in the Shakey’s V-League 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
The Army Women squandered a 2-0 set lead but recovered their bearing in time, outsteading the Net Spikers in a tense endgame behind Jovelyn Gonzaga, MJ Balse and Michelle Carolino.
Gonzaga fired 22 hits, Balse added 13 and Carolino tossed in 10 markers for the Army Women, who thus firmed up its hold of second spot at 5-1 while inching closer to Cagayan (7-0) heading to the carryover quarterfinal round set next week.
The win also put to naught Valdez’s game-high 28-hit effort as the Net Spikers dropped to fourth with a 4-3 slate, enabling Air Force to move to third at 4-2.
Valdez missed Smart-Maynilad’s first six games to honor her commitment for Ateneo in the UAAP beach volley. She unleashed a 21-kill effort and made six service aces that went for naught.
Earlier, the Air Women sustained their mighty comeback from 0-2 card, thumping a hapless Philippine National Police side, 25-16, 25-11, 25-21, yesterday for their fourth straight win after back-to-back losses in the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Meanwhile, the Army-Meralco match last Friday will be shown on GMA News TV Channel 11 today (Monday) starting at 1 p.m. while the Air Force-PNP showdown will be aired tomorrow and the Army-Smart clash, being played at presstime, will be telecast on Wednesday, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Rhea Dimaculangan provided the set plays while Joy Cases and Judy Ann Caballejo supplied the firepower as the Air Women pummeled the Lady Patrollers, 45-27, in spikes.
Janine Marciano unloaded 12 kills while Thai reinforcement Sangmuang Patcharee scored 11 hits but PNP still failed to neutralize Air Force and took its fifth straight setback to join FEU in the cellar in the event backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Still, with Navy toting just a 1-5 slate, PNP and FEU remain in the quarters race although the three teams will have a tough time catching up with the frontrunners in the quarters, another single round robin phase.
Cases topscored for Air Force with 17 attacks for an 18-point output while Caballejo had 11 kills and Maika Ortiz came through with five service aces and two blocks for a 10-point effort.

The Air Women dominated the first two sets but needed to toughen up in the third to fend off the Patrollers and complete the one-hour, 12-minute romp. They close out their elims stint against Meralco tomorrow.(pr)

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