• Army seeks payback, rubber match


    Army is eager to face PLDT Home Ultera again, vowing to accomplish what it had failed to do the first time out and keep its title drive going in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Reinforced Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan City.

    The Lady Troopers looked headed for a rout when they dominated the slow-starting Ultra Fast Hitters and swept the first two sets of the opener of their best-of-three series last Saturday. But they dropped an extended third set loss and were outlasted in another thriller in the fourth before blowing their big fightback in the decider with two late miscues.

    But Army is expected to strike back on Sunday and foil Home Ultera’s sweep bid for its second straight championship after ruling the Open Conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s early in the year.

    Gametime is at 3 p.m. to be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11 along with the 12:45 p.m. clash between Navy and UP for third, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

    Army coach Kungfu Reyes will again rely on his seasoned players in former MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, Joanne Bunag, Nerissa Bautista and Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo with support to come from the crisp-hitting Aby Maraño and ace playmaker Tina Salak.

    While their offense remain deadly, Reyes has stressed the need to toughen up on their net defense given Home Ultera’s slew of spikers, led by Alyssa Valdez, Aiza Pontillas and Gretchel Soltones along with newly-tapped imports Sareea Freeman and Victoria Hurtt.

    In fact, Freeman and Hurtt are expected to have blended with their local teammates going to the crucial match following a struggling stint Saturday where Home Ultera coach Roger Gorayeb was forced to go to his tested local crew to hack out the thrilling come-from-behind win.

    “We’re still having a hard time adjusting with our imports and vice versa,” said Gorayeb. “But the good thing was the locals stepped us.”

    But Gonzaga, Tubino and Maraño, who combined for 50 hits in the series’ opener, are also expected to raise the level of their respective games several notches higher in a bid to neutralize their rivals’ advantage in ceiling.

    A victory by Army will set the stage for a winner-take-all match set on Dec. 13.

    Meanwhile, also on tap in Sunday’s volley festival is sudden death match between Air Force and Cignal for the Spikers’ Turf championship.

    Games Sunday
    12:45 p.m. – Navy vs UP (for third)

    3 p.m. – Home Ultera vs Army (for crown)

    5 p.m. – Air Force vs Cignal (Spikers’ Turf final)


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