Air Force shuts down Meralco, makes V-League semis
MANILA, Philippines - PH Air Force overcame a first-set setback then hung tough in the fourth to carve out a 19-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-22 victory over Meralco and complete the Final Four cast in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
Judy Ann Caballejo fired a game-high 21 hits while Joy Cases, Maika Ortiz and Wendy Ann Semana added 17, 11 and 10 points respectively, as the Air Women picked up their sixth win against five defeats, enough to steer them, together with the Smart-Maynilad belles (6-4) into the carryover semis.
Chinese hitter Coco Wang shot 20 hits while Maureen Ouano and Stephanie Mercado combined for 27 points but the Power Spikers failed to sustain their hot start and bowed out with a 3-7 slate together with Phl National Police (2-8).
Cagayan Province earlier leaned on Aiza Maizo as it bucked the absence of some of its top hitters to hold off PNP, 25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, and move within a win from sweeping the elims and the quarterfinals of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
With Thai ace Kannika Thipachot used sparingly and skipper Angeli Tabaquero given a rest, Maizo took charge and uncorked a 24-hit game while Sandra delos Santos stepped up and came through with four blocks for a 12-point performance for the Rising Suns, who streaked to their 11th win in row.
Maizo, a former league season and finals MVP and a stalwart of the UST team that won a UAAP championship in 2009, delivered 19 kills, three blocks and two service aces as Cagayan primed up for the its keenly awaited showdown with Army Sunday for the top seeding in the Final Four of the conference backed by Mikasa and Accel.
With a 9-1 slate, the Army Women still have a shot at No. 1 with a sweep of the last two matches in the tournament.
PNP, which kept the game close in each frame, formally bowed out of the semis race with a 2-8 card.
Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar opted not to use Tabaquero, who was in uniform but did not play, and Pau Soriano, who was out due to her studies at Adamson while fielding Thipachot just in the opening set and late in the fourth.
“We’re trying to preserve our energy going into the homestretch where the real battle begins,” said Pamilar.
Sandra delos Santos, former NCAA MVP, and Analyn Benito, who played college ball for San Sebastian, filled the huge void left by Tabaquero, Soriano and Thipachot as they pumped in 12 and 10 hits, respectively.
The Lady Patrollers did give the Rising Suns a tough challenge in all four sets, extending the match into the fourth with a big win in the third.
But Pamilar, sensing danger, sent in Thipachot in the fourth and the Thai ace responded and helped the Rising Suns wrap up the win.
Benito unloaded 10 attacks while Shiela Pineda scored eight hits and Wenneth Eulalio and Thipachot each chipped in seven points each for Cagayan, which overpowered PNP, 52-37, in spikes.
Thai Phomia Soraya also provided all but one of Cagayan’s 46 excellent sets as against PNP’s 27 courtesy of Ana Concepcion while Angelique Dionela and