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Cagayan sets up do-or-die showdown with Army after drubbing Meralco

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Needing a win to stay alive in the hunt for a Finals spot, and with rumors of the omission of their best player from the National Team swirling around the internet, the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns responded with an emphatic straight-set win over the Meralco Power Spikers 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 in the second elimination phase of the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at the FilOil Flying-V Arena earlier today.

“Kinausap ko talaga si Aiza [Maizo-Pontillas] na kailangan ipakita niya na deserving siya mapasali sa National Team. Kung gusto niya talaga maisali sa National Team, Kailangan mag-double time siya sa mga galaw niya kanina,” Cagayan head coach Nes Pamilar said after the match on his star’s masterful performance.

News began to spread a few days ago of the Aiza Maizo-Pontillas’ non-inclusion on the SEA Games roster. Though no official roster has been released yet, Pontillas churned out a dominant performance against a team that took them to five sets just a few weeks ago. The UST product topped all scorers with 21 points, all coming off attacks on almost a 40% attacking efficiency clip.

With Cagayan team captain, Angeli Tabaquero still out of the lineup, her fellow open hitters, Rosemarie Vargas and Janine Marciano stepped up in her stead, notching 10 and eight points respectively. Cagayan’s defense also did a marvelous job limiting Aby Maraño, who tore them up in their previous matchup, to just seven points. Her former La Salle teammates, Cha Cruz and Paneng Mercado carried the offensive load for Meralco, contributing 13 and 10 markers respectively.

Cagayan’s win ensured that only two teams will come out of the second elimination phase with two wins. Cagayan renews their rivalry with the Army Lady Troopers on Tuesday with the winner moving on to the Finals. PLDT’s win over the Lady Troopers earlier vaulted them into the Finals. Meralco’s loss officially eliminates from contention for the Finals slot as they are still winless against their fellow Top Four teams this season.

The Scores

Cagayan (3) – Maizo-Pontillas 21, Vargas 10, Marciano 8, Meneses 6, Soriano 6, Saet 4, Benito 1, Sy 0, Eulalio 0, Sagun 0, Pineda (L)

Meralco (0) – Cruz 13, Mercado 10, Morada 8, Maraño 7, Angustia 6, Legacion 1, Hingpit 0, Cayetano 0, Legacion 0, Reyes (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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