Home Ultera, Army start Shakey’s V-L title duel

Games today

12:45 p.m. – PLDT vs Army (Finals)

3 p.m. – Navy vs UP (Battle for third)




Women’s volleyball goes a notch higher as powerhouse teams PLDT Home Ultera and Army collide in what is tipped to be an explosive opener of their best-of-three series for the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Reinforced Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan City.

Though the Ultra Fast Hitters appear to enjoy a slight edge in manpower with the return of ace hitter Alyssa Valdez and the presence of imports Victoria Hurtt and Sareaa Freeman, the Lady Troopers hope to lean on their vast championship experience, guaranteeing a slam-bang action right in the first serve up to the last hit.

Gametime is at 12:45 p.m. to be shown live on GMA News TV Channel 11.

The battle for third place between Navy and University of the Philippines will also be aired live starting at 3 p.m, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

Army and Home Ultera are coming into the finals oozing with confidence following lopsided victories over their respective rivals in the Final Four of the season-ending conference sponsored by Shakey’s. The top seeded Lady Troopers swamped the Navy Lady Sailors, 25-16, 25-10, 25-22, while the Ultra Fast Hitters waylaid the UP Lady Maroons, 25-11, 25-17, 25-17.

While Hurtt and Freeman are expected to provide the power and net defense for Home Ultera, focus will also be on Valdez, who will be playing in his first game after sitting out the elims and the semis of the tournament presented by PLDT Home Ultera and backed by Mikasa and Accel.

“With Alyssa around, it would mean more attacking options for us,” said Home Ultera coach Roger Gorayeb.

But he stressed the series is too close to call with Army also boasting of a solid crew headed by former MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga, Abi Marano, Honey Royse Tubino, Mary Remy Joy Palma and top setter Tina Salak.

Emphasis will also be on reception and blocking with both teams also hoping to minimize each other’s errors while both coaches will try to outwit each other with on-court adjustments.

Army wore down Home Ultera, 25-23, 23-25, 25-11, 19-25, 15-13, in their elims match last Oct. 25. But the Ultra Fast Hitters played without Hurtt and Freeman and Valdez still out of commission due to a minor back injury.

But with the troika in the roster, odds could swing to the Home Ultera side particularly if the two imports and the Open and Collegiate Conference MVP will play true to form.

Gorayeb is also pinning his hopes on former league MVP Aiza Pontillas and Janine Marciano, who joined the team only this conference from Cagayan Valley, last year’s champion of the conference of the league where it all started.

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