Cagayan Province and Smart-Maynilad seek to arrange a showdown for the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference crown as they go for a sweep of their respective Final Four duels with Air Force and Army at The Arena in San Juan City today (Friday).
The Rising Suns bounced back from a first-set loss and survived the Air Women’s gutsy stand in the second frame to hack out a 17-25, 30-28, 25-19, 25-9 victory while the Net Spikers wore down the Army Women, 28-26, 25-17, 19-25, 29-27, in the semis opener last Tuesday.
They switch match times today with Smart-Maynilad getting the first crack at the finals berth against the Army Women at 3 p.m. in what promises to be another cliffhanger between two star-studded, power-hitting teams in the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
New Thai guest player Wanida Kotruang has added depth and firepower to the Smart-Maynilad side boasting of two of the league’s leading scorers in Alyssa Valdez and fellow Thai Lithawat Kesinee. The troika combined for 59 hits the first time out and with veteran campaigner and former league MVP Sue Roces adding 10 points, the Net Spikers repeated over the Army Women, whom they nipped in five in the quarters, to move closer to a dream final stint in the tournament backed by Mikasa and Accel.
But the Army Women are expected to get back at their tormentors with coach Rico de Guzman hopeful he would draw the best from his stellar crew composed of Jovelyn Gonzaga, MJ Balse, Rachel Anne Daquis, Nene Bautista and Michelle Carolino along with Joanne Bunag and Cristina Salak to force a sudden death.
The Rising Suns will also be hard-pressed not only to repeat over the Air Women but also stretch their unbeaten run to 14 in the 5 p.m. main game.
Meanwhile, the Smart-Army match last Tuesday will be shown on GMA News TV Channel 11 today (Friday) starting at 1 p.m. while the Cagayan-Air Force clash will be telecast tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Although top hitter Angeli Tabaquero is nursing some injuries, coach Nes Pamilar has the luxury to rely on his other stars, including Thais Kannka Thipachot and setter Phomia Soraya, Aiza Maizo, Analyn Joy Benito, last year’s conference MVP Sandra delos Santos and Adamson stalwarts Pau Soriano and Shiela Pineda.
But the Air Women showed the Rising Suns can be stopped, only they have to sustain a strong start like they did in Game One when they cracked when push came to shove in the second set.
Joy Cases, Judy Ann Caballejo and Maika Ortiz hope to neutralize Cagayan’s troika of Thipachot, Maizo and Tabaquero with coach Clarence Esteban and skipper Liza de Ramos also hoping to motivate the rest of the squad, including Rhea Dimaculangan, Wendy Semana, Jen Manzano and Mary Pantino in their bid to send the series to a rubber match Sunday.