The PLDT Ultra Fast Hitters drubbed and swept the Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns in three sets, 25-22, 25-14, and 25-23, in the single round-robin semifinals of the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference Thursday afternoon, at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Both squads kept the first set close, constantly at a deadlock situation to prevent any chance to post huge leads. From a 14-all knot, PLDT set themselves closer to grabbing the set, 20-17, after a drop set from Rubie De Leon. Cagayan inched within one, 22-21, after an Aiza Maizo-Pontillas cross-court hit. However, Cagayan could not sustain momentum, as PLDT scored three more to end the set in favor of the Ultra Fast Hitters, 25-22.
PLDT caught fire in the following set, as they turned a slim 9-7 lead to a huge margin midway, 18-10, after a De Leon block. The orange-clad Hitters sustained their rhythm, inching themselves closer to going up by 2-0, 20-13. PLDT outscored Cagayan down the stretch, 5-1, to post a lopsided 25-14 second set victory.
The Lady Rising Suns grabbed the upper hand in the third set, looking to turn things around in their favor. Furthermore, Janine Marciano and Maizo-Pontillas joined forces to post their biggest lead of the set, 16-11.
Late in the set, Alyssa Valdez came up with an attack to close within three, 20-17. Rosemarie Vargas, however, contested the hit, insisting that she was able to receive the ball, that it did not touch the floor. The referee signaled a no-call, forfeiting the Valdez score and returning it to 20-16. The call made PLDT Head Coach Roger Gorayeb furious, and as a result, the official raised him a yellow card.
From that fracas, PLDT rose back from the deficit, and behind the attacks of De Leon, Suzanne Roces, and Alyja Santiago, the Ultra Fast Hitters went up and inched themselves closer to match point, 24-22. Maizo-Pontillas ended their streak after an attack, 24-22, but a quick attack from Santiago capped off their comeback, 25-23, to get away victorious.
Gorayeb gave the credit to the whole team in today’s victory. “Sina Jaja, sina Amanda [Villanueva], lahat ng hinugot sa bench, nakatulong,” said the head coach. “At gusto ko sana, makapasok naman sa finals. ‘Yung mga bata, gusto rin eh,” added Gorayeb, sharing his primary focus for PLDT in SVL.
Santiago led the way for PLDT with 15 points, highlighted by 13 attacks, a block and a serve. Gretchel Soltones added 10 points from 9 attacks. Valdez, who was feeling ill coming into today’s match, chipped in only 7 markers. Maizo-Pontillas and Vargas had 17 and 10, respectively, for Cagayan Valley.
PLDT will face the Philippine Army Lady Troopers on Sunday, May 17, at 12:45 PM, while Cagayan will face the Meralco Power Spikers at 2:45 PM, also at May 17.
PLDT (3) – Santiago 15, Soltones 10, Roces 8, Valdez 7, De Leon 5, Soriano 5, Villanueva 3.
Cagayan Valley (0) – Maizo-Pontillas 17, Vargas 10, Marciano 8, Soriano 6, Eulalio 2, Meneses 2, Sy 1.