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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines — One will go on, the other goes home.
After a humbling defeat against a fighting Philippine Air Force squad yesterday, the Philippine Army formally joined Cagayan and Tuguegarao in the Final 3 as they swept the Airwomen, 25-21, 25-18, 26-24 Friday, June 28 in the 5th Gov. Alvaro Antonio Friendship Games at the People’s Gymnasium here.
The Ging Balse-led squad duplicated their dominating straight set win against Air Force earlier this week to survive a do-or-die series against the equally star-studded squad spearheaded by Maika Ortiz, Joy Cases and Judy Caballejo, among others.
Determined to settle who will occupy the top spot in Bracket C and more importantly the last berth in the final round, Jacq Alarca, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Balse put up an impenetrable frontline early in the match to guide Army to a 15-9 lead but Cases sparked a 6-1 Air Force rally to get within one, 15-16.
Army, however, thwarted Air Force’s late first set raid as they held on dearly on their lead to claim the opening frame, 25-21.
Both teams then went on an intense crossfire in the second set as they tried to outwit one another but it was Army’s frontline which again came out big to secure an assuring two-set advantage, 25-18.
Jennifer Manzano, who was also instrumental in their win against Army yesterday, started off the 3rd set with back-to-back hits but could not get Air Force on a commanding position as their foes just returned what they were able to give.
Army’s veteran cast of Joanne Bunag and Tina Salak then dueled Balse on the court, exchanging attack after attack to claim a slim 9-7 lead midway through the 3rd.
Wanting to avoid a meltdown this time, Army then went on keep the lead on their side for most of the set but Ortiz and Manzano did not let them pull away and even trimmed down their deficit to only one, 20-19.
Army and Air Force then swapped scoring in winning time with the Airwomen tying the game at 23-all but Caballejo took over and scored four consecutive points to lift her team to a 26-24 third set win.
By winning Bracket C, Army will face Tuguegarao on Saturday morning, June 29, and Cagayan in the afternoon to determine the champion of the week-long tournament that will go home with Php 500,000 cash prize.
Cagayan currently sits on top of the Final 3 with a 1-0 record courtesy of a five-set win over Tuguegarao (0-1). – Rappler.com