Stalled by PLDT the last time out, Army got back on track with a 25-20, 25-23, 25-22 romp over Chery Tiggo yesterday as the Lady Troopers wrested solo fourth going into the final week of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference elims at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan.
Behind its seasoned crew, Army unleashed a strong finishing kick to emerge on top of a see-saw first set battle, battled back from 21-23 down in the next then imposed their will in the third to wrap up the 90-minute victory.
With a 3-2 slate, the Lady Troopers stayed behind joint second running PLDT and Creamline, toting identical 3-1 cards, with Cignal clinching the first seat in the next phase with a sweep of its four games.
The HD Spikers were gunning for their fifth straight win against the Petro Gazz Angels at presstime with the latter joining the Crossovers, who dropped to 1-4, in the sidelines following the Lady Troopers’ victory.
Only Choco Mucho, despite its 1-3 mark, has the chance for the last semis berth but the Flying Titans must sweep their last two matches against the High Speed Hitters and the Angels.
They must also hope that Army would drop its last game to Creamline, and Creamline or PLDT loss their last two assignments, to force a tie at 3-3. The last slot to be decided via the PVL points system.
The Lady Troopers took the first two sets on a pair of aces with MJ Balse-Pabayo capping their big windup in a tight opener marked by a number of lead changes and setter Ivy Perez delivering the other that capped their big stretch run fightback in the next frame.
They never gave the Crossovers a chance to recover, storming to 13-9 and 22-15 leads in the third then holding sway after the 2021 Open Conference champions, the first in the pro league era, pulled to within 22-24 on a Mae Layug kill that spiked a three-hit run aided by back-to-back Army miscues.
But Joanne Bunag hammered in an off-the-block hit, dashing whatever hopes the Crossovers had to save a campaign hindered by an injury to top-hitter Dindin Manabat before the conference and the absence of a slew of aces in the early going of the elims of the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
But the Lady Troopers came armed to the teeth and foiled the Crossovers while giving head coach Kungfu Reyes, who missed their last game against the High Speed Hitters, a big win which they hope to build on when they face the fancied Cool Smashers on Saturday.
Gonzaga, whose 11-hit output proved not enough in their four-set loss to PLDT at the SM MOA Arena last weekend, produced the only double-digit performance with 15 points but Audrey Paran’s eight hits, Perez and Mary Anne Esguerra’s identical six points and Bunag and Jeanette Villareal’s similar five points proved enough to anchor the Troopers’ romp over the Crossovers.
Perez also came away with 18 excellent sets to bag the game’s top honors.
Shaya Adorador and Mylene Paat fired 11 points apiece while Czarina Caranding added eight hits and Justine Dorog and EJ Laure tossed in six hits apiece for the Crossovers, who just couldn’t pull it off in the stretch and bowed out of the race.
Games tomorrow (Thursday)
2:30 p.m. – Choco Mucho vs PLDT
5:30 p.m. – Chery Tiggo vs Creamline