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Army hijacks PLDT behind clutch performances by Tubino, Gonzaga

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The Philippine Army Lady Troopers needed Jovelyn Gonzaga and Honey Royce Tubino’s heroics in the fifth set to escape with a win against the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters, 25-23, 23-25, 25-11, 25-19, 15-13, in the Shakeys V League Reinforced Conference at the FilOil Flying V Arena, Sunday afternoon.

In the first set, Tubino and Gonzaga delivered the Lady Troopers’ final three points to break a 22-all deadlock, as the Philippine Army answered every attack of the Ultra Fast Hitters all throughout the set to prevent PLDT from creating any momentum.

PLDT bounced back in the second set with Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Sue Roces collaborating to give PLDT a 10-5 lead. The Lady Troopers struggled to get back into the set, as errors and poor reception hampered their ability to answer the attacks the Ultra Fast Hitters launched.

The Lady Troopers utilized the blocking and timely attacks of Aby Marano, Gonzaga, and Nerissa Bautista to establish a 16-5 lead in the third set, as they buried PLDT for a 2-1 set lead. The Ultra Fast Hitters turned the tables in the fourth set, as Janine Marciano and Gretchel Soltones helped them to a 16-8 lead. Errors and the combined effort of Gonzaga, Michelle Carolino, and Mary Jean Balse, put Army back into the game, trailing by only 4, 20-16. Luckily for PLDT, Soltones, Pontillas, and Sasa Devanadera bailed out the Ultra Fast Hitters down the stretch to force a fifth and deciding set.

Behind the offensive brilliance of Tubino and Gonzaga in the fifth set, the Lady Troopers created an 8-4 gap. But PLDT, led by Pontillas, fought back to tie the match at 11-all. A net touch call against Soltones gave the Lady Troopers a slim 12-11 lead, and Gonzaga scored through the block to increase it to 13-11. Tubino unloaded a cross court hit to put Army at match point, 14-11. Still PLDT was able to cut the lead as Soltones scored and a net touch error against Army put the game at 14-13; Gonzaga unloaded a quick hit to end the match for the Lady Troopers.

After the game Philippine Army Head Coach Kungfu Reyes said the Lady Troopers didn’t maintain their good start, which is why the match took longer to finish. “Maganda ang umpisa namin lalo noong first set pero hindi namin ma maintain lalo hindi namin nakuha ang first ball,” Reyes said.

Marano led Army with 18 points while Gonzaga chipped 16 markers along with 17 excellent digs. Tubino added 16 points and setter Tina Salak tossed 45 excellent sets.

Pontillas finished with 19 points along with 10 excellent digs for the Ultra Fast Hitters with Marciano coming through with 12 points.

The Lady Troopers (2-0) will next face the Philippine Navy Lady Sailors (2-1) on October 31 at 5:00 PM while the Ultra Fast Hitters (1-1) will try to bounce back against the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (2-0) at 12:45 PM in the same day at the same venue.

The scores:

PHI Army (3) – Marano 18, Gonzaga 16, Tubino 16, Bautista 12, Salak 5, Bunag 4, Balse 3, Carolino 2, Gonzales 0, Nunag 0, Agno(L), Torres(L)

PLDT (2) – Pontillas 19, Marciano 12, Roces 11, Devanadera 11, Soltones 11, De Leon 3, Latigay 1, Soriano 0, Ferrer 0, De Jesus(L), Pantone (L)

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