Teams W L
Cagayan 2 0
PLDT 2 0
Meralco 1 0
Army 1 1
Navy 1 1
Fourbees 1 2
Baguio 0 2
Coast Guard 0 2
2 p.m. – Navy vs Army
4 p.m. – PLDT vs Coast Guard
PLDT Home Ultera outdueled defending champion Army in a back-and-forth third set thriller and completed a 25-16, 25-23, 28-26 victory to gain a share of the lead with Cagayan Valley in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City Sunday.
Jaja Santiago scored on a block and former MVP Suzanne Roces blasted in a side smash off Rachel Ann Daquis, ending a wild, wooly third set and giving the Ultra Fast Hitters their second straight win and a shared view of the top of the eight-team field in the season-opening tournament of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Army, which played without top hitter and former league MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga, fell to 1-1 in a tie with Navy.
The straight-set romp didn’t reflect the manner by which the Ultra Fast Hitters slugged it out with the equally-talented Lady Troopers – spike-for-spike, block-for-block, dig-for-dig, only they proved steadier in the end of a highly-electrifying match watched by 2,734 fans at the venue and thousands more at homes over GMA News TV Channel 11 which aired the highly-anticipated match live.
PLDT did top Army in the scoring skills, 39-33 (spikes), 8-5 (blocks) and 10-4 (serves) but save for the opening frame, the Lady Troopers kept coming back but lost steam and poise in the end of each of the next two sets to the chagrin of the huge number of volley fans who had braced for a long drawn battle between the league’s two top teams.
Alyssa Valdez played true to form, upfront or at back row, finishing with 19 hits, including four on attacks, while Roces and Santiago chipped in 10 points apiece for the Ultra Fast Hitters, who also drew a combined 18-point game from Elaine Kasilag, Charo Soriano, Gretchel Soltones and Rubie de Leon.
PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb also sprang a surprise in Kasilag, who delivered key hits in the last two sets, including a set-clinching serve in the second frame that hit the net but dropped into the other side.
The 20-year-old Kasilag, one of the most sought-after rookies during the off-season, has vied in both indoor and beach volley meets for the University of Perpetual Help-Laguna and has represented the country in the AVC Beach Volley Continental Cup Zonal Qualifiers last year.
She debuted for PLDT with seven hits in the team’s 25-10, 25-16, 25-21 victory over Baguio in last week’s opener of the event presented by PLDT Home Ultera and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Army, who beat Cagayan Valley to rule this conference last year, struggled in the absence of Gonzaga, who was out with a right ankle sprain. But the Lady Troopers still fought it out behind Daquis (9 hits), Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Mary Jean Balse, Nerissa Bautista and setter Tina Salak, who each scored seven markers.
They actually led 21-19 in the second set but Jaja Santiago scored on kill and Army committed an error before Valdez and Kasilag scored two straight hits to give PLDT a 23-21 cushion.
Army countered with two back-to-back hits to force another tie but Soriano and Kasilag scored to give PLDT a 2-0 set lead.
It was more of the same in the third with Army forcing a 21-all count on a Dindin Santiago attack, a PLDT error and a Jaja Santiago mishit. But Kasilag again scored on an off-the-block spike only to allow Army to tie again on a De Leon error.
The Lady Troopers appeared headed to extending the match after seizing a 26-25 lead on a Daquis attack but Balse committed a service error and Jaja Santiago scored on a block before Roces came through with the clincher after a rally.
Meralco later joined Cagayan Valley and PLDT Home Ultera in the lead with an easy 25-17, 25-8, 25-14 romp over newcomer Baguio.
Aby Marano fired 14 hits while Charleen Cruz added 10 as the Power Spikers overpowered the Summer Spikers to fashion out the 61-minute victory. Fille Cainglet-Cayetano scored nine hits while Stephanie Mercado added six points for Meralco, who had 41 spikes against Baguio’s measly 17 attacks, and came away with eight blocks against their rivals’ four. The Power Spikers also made six service aces.