LINGAYEN, Pangasinan - Losing a set for the first time in this tourney, Western Visayas bounced back, flashed its championship form and mercilessly tortured its hapless foe.
The defending champions started slow but recovered just in time to demolish Northern Mindanao, 22-25, 25-12, 25-17, to return to the finals of the 2012 Palarong Pambansa secondary girls volleyball Friday morning, May 11 at the Pangasinan State University Gym here.
Sophomore Aeriel Estranero, junior Bernadeth Pons and graduating setter Gizelle Tan teamed up to help the Region VI spikers get another shot at the crown it has won twice in the last three years.
"Medyo tentative pa ang mga bata today (The kids are a little tentative today)," said WV coach Malot Lozada. "Hopefully tomorrow, maitaas nila ang game nila a notch higher."
In an amazing display of talent -- and poor reception by Region X -- Estranero strung up a series of seven service aces, points that helped Western Visayas pull away.
Pons and Tan, meanwhile, combined to anchor Region VI's offense as they ran their finals appearance streak in the Palaro to five.
"She (Estranero) is really our best server if she plays her full form," Lozada added.
Their archrivals, National Capital Region, also booked a ticket to the Last Dance by outlasting a game Central Visayas side, 25-12, 18-25, 25-20.
After a dominant first set, the Big City spikers looked to cruise past the Region VII bets but were surprised by a more aggressive Central Visayas crew that snatched the second frame.
But NCR raced out of the gates in the third, erecting a 13-4 lead behind its middle spikers only to see Region VII rally to drop an 11-3 bomb and inch perilously close, 16-15.
The 2011 runners-up, however, would not be denied as they scored nine of the next 14 points to seal a rematch with Western Visayas tomorrow morning.
"Medyo nagloko yung mga bata ngayon (The kids didn't play their best game today)," rued NCR coach Grace Vita. "We'll patch some errors sa offense at reception namin. And we'll definitely have a good game tomorrow."
In secondary boys action, NCR plastered CALABARZON, 25-18, 25-19, to arrange a finals battle with Central Visayas, which defeated Central Luzon, 25-18, 28-26. - Rappler.com