Cagayan turns back PAF, reaches V-League Final 4
|Cagayan's Shiela Pineda (L) attempts a spike against Air Force's defense. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com|
MANILA, Philippines - Cagayan Province went to Shiela Pineda when Thai import Kannika Thipachot struggled as it turned back a hard-fighting Phl Air Force, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22, to clinch the first Final Four berth in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
The power-hitting Pineda from Adamson took over from an ailing Thipachot late in the second set and went on to fire nine points, emerging as a key backup to Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, who combined for 31 hits for the Rising Suns, who extended their unbeaten run to eight for a spot in the Final Four of the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Army joined Cagayan in the semis later in the day as it slammed Meralco, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19, and stayed just behind the Rising Suns at 8-1.
Rachel Anne Daquis uncorked a 19-hit game while Jovelyn Gonzaga scored 11 hits as the Army Women overpowered the Power Spikers, 45-35, and came through with eight blocks, limiting Meralco’s Chinese reinforcement Coco Wang to 14 points.
Meralco took its fifth loss against three wins.
Thipachot, Cagayan’s top scorer with a 15-hit norm, scored six points in a two-set stint before she was pulled out.
But Pineda, Maizo and Tabaquero got the job done just the same with help from Thai setter Phomia Soraya, Pau Soriano and Wenneth Eulalio, who chipped in seven hits apiece.
“We were forced to take her (Thipachot) out and rush her to the hospital, she probably ate something bad before the game,” said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar, whose team finished 12th in the Asian Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand a few days back, in Filipino.
After struggling in the opening set which the Air Women took, Thipachot had to be replaced by Pineda late in the second after complaining of a bum stomach.
Pineda didn’t disappoint as she helped form the core of Cagayan’s awesome frontline that includes Maizo and Tabaquero, who finished with 18 and 13 hits, respectively.
With Pineda providing the needed back-up, Cagayan took the last three sets and the match while dropping Air Force to fourth at 5-4 in the tournament backed by Mikasa and Accel.
“She stepped up big in the absence of Thipachot,” said Pamilar of Pineda.
Joy Gazelle Cases, Maika Ortiz and Judy Ann Caballejo combined for 40 hits, the bulk coming in the first set to surprise their unbeaten rivals. Skipper Liza de Ramos added seven markers while Jen Manzano and Wendy Semana tossed in five and four hits, respectively.