PLDT Home Ultera outduelled Army in a scrambling back-and-forth match all throughout and came away with a 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25, 25-21 decision yesterday to capture the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Reinforced Conference crown via sweep before a big roaring Sunday crowd at The Arena in San Juan City.
Foiled in a rollercoaster third set, the Ultra Fast Hitters outlasted the Lady Troopers in the fourth that was close throughout until Alyssa Valdez bucked a sore knee and presided the team’s late charge with a series of vicious spikes before Army’s Aby Maraño handed the crown to Home Ultera with a net violation.
“I kept asking her if she’s okay at every point. And she told me, she is,” said Home Ultera coach Roger Gorayeb of Valdez, who limped to the bench with the score tied at 13 in the fourth after hurting her right knee when she fell and hit the head of teammate Sue Roces while trying for a dig.
“Helping the team win the championship is my goal above anything else,” said Valdez, who tallied 22 points, including four aces, after a 25-hit effort in powering Home Ultera to a come-from-behind 16-25, 20-25, 26-24, 29-27, 18-16 victory in Game One. She took home the Finals MVP honors.
The one-hour, 50-minute victory, marked by a number of long rallies, superb blocking, stinging spikes, tips and dinks, also capped Home Ultera’s domination of Army and the league sponsored by Shakey’s as the Ultra Fast Hitters also edged the Lady Troopers, 2-1, to snare the Open Conference diadem early this year.
Gorayeb also completed a record personal “slam,” winning all three titles disputed in the 12th season of the league where it all started, including the Collegiate championship for National U over former team Ateneo.
Import Sareea Freeman backed Valdez with 17 hits, including six blocks and a number of tips.
Like in the series’ opener, Gorayed drew balanced scoring from his stellar roster with Sue Roces and Gretchel Soltones firing 10 hits apiece and Rysabelle Devanadera and import Victoria Hurtt combining for 11 points.
Setter Rubie de Leon also put in another solid performance, finishing with 28 excellent sets while chipping in four points, including two tips, while libero Lizlee Ann Pantone provided another solid floor defense for the Ultra Fast Hitters.
Maraño topscored for Army with 14 hits while Jovelyn Gonzaga, who helped key the Lady Troopers’ victory in the third set, added 13 markers and Joanne Bunag and Remy Palma came off the bench to fire nine and eight points, respectively.
With Home Ultera down, 18-19, in the fourth, Valdez took charge and blasted in three of Home Ultera’s next four points against a lone hit by Maraño then the Ultra Fast Hitters finished off their rivals by taking three of the last four points, the last courtesy of Maraño.
It was a see-saw battle from the opening serve between the top teams in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel with Home Ultera proving steadier in the first two sets before Army battling back from early deficits in the third before holding sway down the stretch.
Earlier, University of the Philippines primed up for the UAAP volley wars early next year by finishing third, beating Navy, 25-20, 24-26, 25-23, 25-15, to complete a sweep of their best-of-three series for third.
The Lady Maroons, who turned back the Lady Sailors in Game One, 18-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-10, drew a combined 75-hit output from skipper Katherine Bersola, Justine Dorog, Isabel Molde, Nicole Tiamzon and Marian Buitre to complete the one-hour, 45-minute victory.
The Lady Maroons pounded the Lady Sailors with 65 spikes as against their rivals 49, dominated the net with 10 blocks, five more than the Sailors, and cashed in on their rivals’ poor service reception to score nine aces.
Pau Soriano and Lilet Mabbayad fired 15 and 13 hits, respectively, for Navy.