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Baguio climbs up the standings, sinks Coast Guard

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Both Baguio and the Philippine Coast Guard teams entered the game looking for their first win, and, afterwards, it was the Summer Spikers who emerged victorious, coming from behind to force a five-set affair over the hapless Lady Dolphins, 25-27, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12 victory in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference at the Filoil Flying-V Arena in San Juan City, earlier this afternoon.

Florence Mae Madulid and Cindy Benitez tallied 17 points each to spearhead the Cordillerans’ cause, while Krissian Tsuchiya and Roxanne Almonte also recorded 16 and 11 points, respectively, to shoulder an ample amount of points to outlast their opponent, Coast Guard. The Lady Dolphins, still winless in the competition, relied on Rossan Fajardo, who scored a game-best 29 points. Supporting her in the match were Kath Magsumbol and Hyrize Macabuhay, with the duo joining forces to rack up 30 combined points. In hindsight, Coast Guard may look back and rue committing six more turnovers than their foes—some of which came at critical junctures of the match.

Baguio pulled away early in the first set on the back of a 6-0 run that began when the match was even at six-all in the first set. It appears fascinating that half of those points scored in that period came off Coast Guard’s errors. They were not able to expand the lead, however, as the Summer Spikers also committed three errors to encourage the Lady Dolphins in tying the score at 20-all. Fajardo and Magsumbol were the usual suspects for Coast Guard, while Mary Cristel Rosale and Macabuhay also contributed timely hits to help their team. Errors again looked pivotal when both teams scored more off them than attack points. In that case, it looked as if the more effective win would end up as the victors in the opening set. With the match headed to 24-all, a crucial four touches violation called against Baguio swung the tide of the match in favor of the Lady Dolphins, whose Decie Ann Montero buried a spike that ended the opening frame.

Perhaps frustrated after not bagging the opening set, despite holding set point at one time, Baguio got off to a hot start in the second set to avoid falling down, 0-2 in the match. Tsuchiya led the way by amassing four of the first nine Baguio points as compared to the Coast Guard’s sole point, which came from a Fajardo drop shot. It was, then, a game of runs, unfortunately for Coast Guard, as Baguio established a lead huge enough to win the second set.

The third set was much closer than the first two. Coast Guard threatened to mirror Baguio’s early second set surge to break away and do the same in the succeeding set, but Baguio instantly responded with three quick points of their own. It was a see-saw battle until the moment when Coast Guard constructed a four-point advantage at 20-16, mainly with Fajardo and Magsumbol doing the damage. The Baguio players managed to cut it to one, but a huge 5-2 rally founded on Baguio’s infractions signalled the conclusion of the third set in favor of the Lady Dolphins.

Baguio did take the fourth set, but contrary to how they pocketed the second as they had to withstand the Lady Dolphins’ late run. The set started with the Summer Spikers holding a slim 8-7 advantage entering the first technical timeout. Furthermore, They scored seven of the next 10 points to make it a 15-10 set. The momentum, then, gradually shifted towards Coast Guard, whose Fajardo, Montero, and Magsumbol kept finding ways to pierce the Baguio defense. With the set at 21-19, the trailing Coast Guard had the chance to repeat their heroic first set run to overturn the disadvantage, but Baguio played smarter this time around. Tsuchiya sent the match into a deciding set when she hammered a spike ferociously to the canvas.

There was no need to stress the importance of not committing errors, especially in the fifth set when grabbing 15 points is enough to claim the win. However, Coast Guard suddenly fell to their miscues–three to be exact–to put Baguio slightly ahead at 5-3. Magsumbol almost singlehandedly carried her team midway through the fifth set as multiple Baguio players contributed to pad their lead. At 12-8, in favor of Baguio, the Lady Dolphins remained composed to score the next three points and trim the gap to a solitary point. At a crucial part of the match, the Cordillerans drilled wisely to kill any chances of a 14-all deuce courtesy of Tsuchiya, who thumped the ball down the line to win the game for Baguio.

Henry Fuentes, Baguio’s coach, was clearly delighted with the outcome of the match. “Sa wakas,” he uttered, “First win, at least nakuha sa tiyaga ng players” Fuentes added that the trip from Baguio, less than 24 hours ago, plus the absence of a few players, made it challenging for the Summer Spikers to go up against an equally determined Coast Guard team. “Sabi ko sa kanila ‘Tulong-tulong na lang tayo. Huwag tayo bibigay lang'”, told Fuentes, who also remarked that the trip uphill to their hometown will be sweeter this time around. The result now lifts Baguio, whose record is 1-3, above Coast Guard–still winless in their first four games in the tournament.

The Scores:

Baguio (3) – Benitez 17, Madulid 17, Tsuchiya 16, Almonte 11, Agudia 6, Torres 3, Tolentino 1, Abella (L)

Phil Coast Guard (2) – Fajardo 29, Magsumbol 19, Macabuhay 11, Rosale 5, Montero 3, Espelita 2, Valencia 1, Yumul 1, Acepcion (L)

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