Cagayan Province edges Smart-Maynilad, Army repulses gutsy Air Force

Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero came through in the decider as Cagayan Province edged Smart-Maynilad, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-13, to extend its amazing run to 10 in the quarterfinal round of the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City last night.
Maizo and Tabaquero scored on kills to shatter the 13-all count and seal the Rising Suns’ one-hour, 52-minute victory to delight of a season-best 3,000-plus crowd.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game, good thing we delivered in the end,” said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar in Filipino, whose wards thus repeated over the Net Spikers, whom they swept in the elims.
Thai reinforcement Kannika Thipachot led Cagayan with 22 hits, including 20 kills, while Tabaquero and Maizo finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Ateneo standout Alyssa Valdez unloaded 22 hits while Thai import Lithawat Kesinee and Gretchel Soltones added 15 and 12 points for the Net Spikers, who controlled the first half of the fifth set, 8-7, and rallied from 11-13 to send the match into a thrilling finish.
The Rising Suns thus denied the Net Spikers an outright entry to the Final Four as the latter absorbed their fourth loss against six wins.
Earlier, Army squandered a two-set lead and needed to scramble in the decider to repulse a gutsy Air Force side, 25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 19-25, 15-13, and stay within sight of Cagayan Province in the quarterfinal round.
The Army Women leaned on former UAAP MVP and UST standout Mary Jean Balse, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis in the crunch to thwart the upset bid of their PAF counterparts for their ninth win against a loss, keeping them on track for the No. 1 spot in the Final Four.
They remained just behind unbeaten Cagayan Province (10-0) heading to the last three playdates in the carryover quarters phase of the tournament sponsored by Shakey’s.

Balse, relegated to the background majority of their campaign, provided the experience and poise in a nerve-wracking decider, winding up with 24 hits and topscoring for the team for the first time with a superb performance she spiked with 20 kills and three aces.(pr)


Army stalwarts (from left) Rachel Anne Daquis, Davao del Norte native Mary Jean Balse and Cristina Salak celebrate a crucial hit against the Air Force side.


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