SuperLiga: RC Cola, Army book tickets to finals

Naveen Ganglani

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The RC Cola-AirForce Raiders and Generika-Army Lady Troopers picked up wins in their semifinal matchups to set up a date in the finals of the Philippine SuperLiga All-Filipino Conference

MANILA, Philippines – And then there were two.

The RC Cola-AirForce Raiders and Generika-Army Lady Troopers picked up wins in their semifinal matchups on Sunday, July 20, at the Cuneta Astrodome to set up a date in the finals of the Philippine SuperLiga All-Filipino Conference.

RC Cola escapes PLDT in five sets

After finishing dead last with a 0-6 record in the 2013 Philippine SuperLiga Grand Prix, the RC Cola Raiders are now en route to the finals of the league’s next conference, beating the PLDT Home TVolution Power Attackers, 16-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12, in a thrilling five-set semis duel on Sunday afternoon.

Maika Ortiz recorded 17 markers while rookie Iari Yongco put up 12 to lead the Raiders, which had to come back from a 2-1 deficit to take down the Power Attackers.

Jennifer Manzano and Joy Cases combined to score 21 and provided more ammunition for the winning team, while PLDT was dealt its second straight elimination in the semifinal round despite getting 20 and 18 points from Sue Roces and Lou Ann Latigay, respectively.

With the game slipping away in the fourth set, RC Cola managed to rally from an early 11-6 deficit to gain momentum towards the middle of the period. Errors from Roces and Angela Benting then went on to further hurt the Power Attackers, helping the Raiders to a 25-20 win.

RC Cola rode its momentum entering the deciding period by racing off to a 4-0 lead, but a swift answer by PLDT put the Power Attackers ahead by three, 11-8, four points away from the franchise’s first PSL finals appearance. 

But after the Raiders tied the contest at 12-all, an error by Latigay proved costly and was the opening act to two quick kills by Maizo, who placed a stamp on her team’s ticket to the final round.

Generika-Army eliminates AirAsia with ease

The Generika-Army Lady Troopers are now one step closer towards attaining a three-peat.

In a playoff matchup featuring some of the most seasoned volleyball veterans in the country against a club saddled by DLSU Lady Spikers alumni, it was the former that prevailed in easy fashion, 25-19, 25-23, 25-16, at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The victory pushes the winning streak to five for the Lady Troopers, which has yet to lose since the return of veteran setter Tina Salak.

The experienced champion was key in her team’s win, spearheading Army to a 25-11 advantage in the sets battle against the Flying Spikers. The Lady Troopers also doubled AirAsia in digs, 41-20.

Jovelyn Gonzaga topscored for Generika-Army with 14 points, while Jean Balse and Nene Bautista combined for 22. 

Stephanie Mercado was the single double-digit scorer for the Flying Spikers, finishing with 10.

Both clubs started the match with equal energy, fighting each other to a draw before a series of scores by Gonzaga and Bautista gave their team a six-point threshold late in the first. Army held onto its lead and finished the first set ahead by the same margin, 25-19.

It seemed as if AirAsia would respond and tie the game in the second set, as the team took a three-point lead following a Michele Gumabao kill down the middle lane. However, the Lady Troopers tied the game at 23 while spearheaded by Balse, and then closed out the second period with consecutive kills by Gonzaga and Rachel Ann Daquis.

The Flying Spikers failed to put up a valiant fight in what would turn out to be the final set, falling to an 8-3 hole early which they could not come back from.

Coach Rico De Guzman and his Army girls will look to remain the only team in SuperLiga history to win a championship when they battle the Raiders on Saturday, July 26, also at the Cuneta Astrodome. –

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