The Laoag Power Smashers clinched the last playoff spot and ended the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons’ conference in four sets, 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 26-24, in their last elimination round game of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference today at the Philsports Arena.
Jovy Prado came alive late in the game to lead both teams in scoring, with 23 points off 22 spikes and a block.
“Si Jovy, lagi namang lumalaban ‘yan. ‘Yung first two sets nga niya, sinasabi ko sa kanya, ‘Mabagal ‘yung laro mo. Hindi ‘yan ‘yung laro mo, ipakita mo ‘yung totoong laro mo,'” said Laoag head coach Nes Pamilar.
Laoag led all the way in a close first set, even after a 20-20 tie that forced Coach Pamilar to call a timeout. After talking things over, the Power Smashers went ahead to take the set via a 5-1 run, capped by a Mylene Paat through-the-block hit.
Paat scored a total of 14 for Laoag off 13 attacks and a block.
The teams were tied 17-17 in the second set when UP pulled away with four straight points, two off attacks by UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year Isa Molde. who scored a total of 16 points off 12 attacks and four blocks.
The Lady Maroons banked on the small advantage to close the set 25-19, capped off by setter Mae Basarte’s back-to-back service aces. UP had five aces in the third set, while Laoag had none.
In the third set, Laoag held set point, 24-20, when UP dared to steal the set after a Justine Dorog drop shot and an unforced error by Laoag, 24-22. But the Power Smashers closed the set after a Dorog miscue, 25-22.
It was a de ja vu in the fourth set with the Power Smashers once again holding set point, 24-20. UP then gave Laoag a run for their money and rallied four straight points, highlighted by three consecutive blocks by captain Kathy Bersola and an off-speed hit by Diana Carlos.
Bersola and Carlos scored eight and 19, respectively, for UP.
However, two solid attacks from Adamson Soaring Falcons Gemma Galanza and Paat closed the game for Laoag, 26-24.
“Nakita naman na ‘yung tiwala nga, ‘yung kumpiyansa nila na kaya nilang tapusin, nandu’n,” said Pamilar.
The Power Smashers will face the either Pocari Sweat or Air Force in a best-of-three semifinals series starting on Wednesday.
“Kahit sino’ng makatapat, lalaban kami. Basta page-ensayuhan namin,” Pamilar concluded.
Laoag (3) – Prado 23, Paat 14, Galanza 13, Villegas 8, Eulalio 7, Saet 4, Sante 0, Tan 0, Emnas 0, Layug 0, Galang (L), Gillego (L)
UP (1) – Carlos 19, Molde 16, Tiamzon 11, Dorog 8, Bersola 8, Basarte 6, Buitre 2, Layug 0, Gaiser (L), Estranero (L)