MANILA, Philippines — Unbeaten no more.
Cagayan Valley served strong notice of its title bid by dealing powerhouse Smart-Maynilad its first defeat in straight-set fashion, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20, in the 10th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference on Tuesday, August 27 at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Pushed to the limit by the gritty Net Spikers, the Lady Rising Suns had a lot of players to thank for to book its second straight win and grab the solo lead in the standings with a 2-0 record.
Evergreen Angeli Tabaquero shone the brightest for the Lady Rising Suns as she fired a team-best 15 points while 3 other Cagayan Valley spikers finished in double-digits.
Thai reinforcement Kannika Thipachot made a good account of herself by wounding up with 14 hits on the strength of 14 attacks while power-hitting southpaw Aizo Maizo and Wenneth Eulalio chipped in 13 and 11, respectively for the Lady Rising Suns.
“Nag-focus talaga kami sa blocking,” said Cagayan Valley head coach Nes Pamilar. “Nagawa yung game plan and na-contain namin yung open nila.”
It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the first set, with the Lady Rising Suns maximizing on Smart-Maynilad’s porous defense to take it, 25-23.
The Net Spikers, though, raced to a 4-1 lead early in the second frame behind the efforts of Sue Roces, Charo Soriano and Maru Banaticla.
Cagayan Valley slowly clawed its way back in the set and kept within striking distance with Smart-Maynilad on a Thipachot kill, 12-14.
Smart-Maynilad threatened to take the set as they held a 22-17 lead capped by a Banaticla point before Cagayan Valley dropped a telling 4-0 mini run that closed the gap at 21-22 on a Maizo off-the-block hit.
Both teams exchanged points before Roces committed a costly attacking error that pushed the Lady Rising Suns to set point, 25-24.
Maizo then scored her signature lefty kill to win the set, 26-24.
Rising from slow starts
Cagayan Valley trailed early in the third set once more but found ways to rise from the jaws of defeat as Pau Soriano shoved them into 23-19.
The Lady Rising Suns reached match point as Net Spikers’ ace setter Rubie De Leon made a service error that did Smart-Maynilad in the set, and ultimately in the match.
The Net Spikers would score for one last time on a Soriano kill that went outside before Banaticla’s attack was foiled by the solid blocking of Cagayan Valley, 25-20.
“Kung sa tao, mas malakas ‘tong team ko ngayon,” added Pamilar.
Banaticla was the lone Net Spiker to score in double-figures, pacing the team with 15 points. Soriano and Roces had 9 and 8, respectively for Smart-Maynilad’s who slid to 3-1.– Rappler.com