Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns withstood the furious come-from-behind surge by Philippine Navy Lady Sailors in five sets, 25-18, 25-7, 22-25, 25-23, and 15-9, in their preliminary match-up of the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference this afternoon, at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Rising Suns actually started well in the opening set, but the error bug seemed to have bitten Cagayan’s offense, which inevitably gave away easy points to the opposing side. Midway into the set, Navy saw themselves on top, 15-13, after a check ball by Norie Jean Diaz. However, their grasp of the lead loosened moments later, as Cagayan regained their stance on both ends of the floor striking a 12-3 scoring spree behind Rosemarie Vargas, Marivic Meneses, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Shiela Pineda to close out and own the first set, 25-18.
The second set displayed the beastly offensive outburst by Cagayan, preventing Navy to get their rhythm and initiate a scoring attack. Behind their all-around team effort on both ends; highlighted by Chie Saet’s service aces, Pau Soriano’s quick attacks, and Meneses’ solid blockings, Cagayan easily handled the Lady Sailors, 25-7, to go up 2-0.
However, Navy refused to back down come the third set. While Cagayan played far from the level they had in the first two sets, the Lady Sailors capitalized and posted a five-point lead midway into the third, 19-14, after a service ace from Lilet Mabbayad. Cagayan, on the other hand, mounted a comeback of their own behind Maizo-Pontillas, Saet, and Elaine Sagun to tie at 20-all. Navy, then, quickly answered with three straight points behind Diaz and Jolina Labiano to regain the lead, 23-20. The Lady Rising Suns chalked up two more points off attacks, but a costly service error by Saet sent the Lady Sailors to set point, 24-22. A service ace by Hezzymie Acuña sealed the set for Navy, 25-22.
Cagayan quickly shrugged off their sluggish third-set performance come the fourth set. They strengthened their attacks further through proper execution in the offensive end, which propelled them to lead most of the set. The Lady Rising Suns seemed to be poised to end the match at four sets, but squandered their lead late in the set. With just two points shy in closing out the match, 23-20, the Lady Sailors, behind Labiano, Acuña, and Mabbayad, scored five unanswered points and cruised past Cagayan, 25-23, to equalize at 2-2.
The Lady Rising Suns did not let any opportunity to slip in the fifth set, when they quickly stormed to an 8-3 lead, thanks to their beefed up offense provided by Soriano and Maizo-Pontillas. From then on, Cagayan successfully kept Navy at bay, not allowing the latter to close by less than five points. An off-the-block hit by Maizo-Pontillas sealed the win for Cagayan, 15-9.
Cagayan Valley Head Coach, Nes Pamilar, admitted that he was a bit disappointed with the match’s turnout. “Of course medyo disappointed din ako,” stressed Pamilar. “Pero dahil nga sa hindi 100% ang mga players ko, sabi ko na lang na ‘kung anong kaya ng katawan natin, yun ang ilaro natin.’ Buti naman at nakapanalo,” added Pamilar, who pertained to a viral infection that caused some of his players to feel sick, which played a key factor in their performance.
Maizo-Pontillas led the Rising Suns with 24 points, with 22 coming from spikes. Meneses paced 18 points, coming from 11 spikes and 7 blocks, while Vargas had 10. Pineda, who was converted to the spiker position from her usual Libero spot to fill in team needs, and Soriano each scored 10 in the win. Mabbayad and Labiano each had 13 markers for the Lady Sailors in a losing effort.
The victory improved Cagayan to a 4-1 win-loss slate, while Navy dropped to 2-4, with their hopes of entering the next round in tatters.
Cagayan Valley (3) – Maizo-Pontillas 24, Meneses 18, Pineda 11, Soriano 11, Vargas 10, Saet 5, Sagun 2, Eulalio 2, Benito 1.
Philippine Navy (2) – Labiano 13, Mabbayad 13, Diaz 12, Martinez 11, Acuña 8, Ticar 2, Oserio 1.