Army resumes its Final Four drive as it takes on a surging Air Force side even as PLDT Home Telpad tries to recover lost grounds against National U in the quarterfinal round of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan today.
With PLDT dropping to third following a shock shutout loss to Ateneo last Sunday and Cagayan Valley taking another bye in the quarters, Army hopes to move a step ahead of the field in what looms to be a spirited chase for the Final Four slots in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Tied with the Rising Suns at 6-1, the Lady Troopers seek to repeat their 3-1 rout of the Raiders in their elims round faceoff last July 6 and zero in on the No. 1 spot in the 4 p.m. main game of another explosive twinbill marking the second playdate of the two-week quarters phase of the tournament backed by Mikasa and Accel.
The Turbo Boosters, meanwhile, also try to re-stamp their class over Lady Bulldogs, whom they trampled in four last July 22 although the league’s newcomers are reeling from a straight-set setback to the Lady Eagles that revived the reigning UAAP champions’ bid for a playoff for the last semis seat.
The 2 p.m. match is also a must-win game for NU, which also dropped its first quarters assignment via a four-set loss to Air Force, also last Sunday. Sharing fifth place with the Lady Eagles and two games behind the fourth-running Raiders, the Lady Bulldogs need to sweep their last four games to stay in the hunt.
Games can be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph with the Ateneo-PLDT match last Sunday to be aired on GMA News TV Channel starting at 1 p.m. today (Tuesday). The NU-PLDT duel today will be shown tomorrow while the Army-Air Force clash will be telecast Thursday, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Air Force coach Clarence Esteban sprang a surprise in Liza Deramos, who came off the bench and fired eight hits in the fourth, including five blocks and two aces, helping the Raiders finish off the Lady Bulldogs.
But Esteban would need to draw the best from the rest, including Judy Caballejo, Joy Cases, May Pantino, Jocie Tapic and Maika Ortiz, the team’s top hitter who struggled with just five hits against NU, since they would be facing a team teeming with talent and experience.
Though they needed to eke out a come-from-behind five-set victory over the Lady Eagles at the close of the elms campaign last July 29, the Lady Troopers, winners of this conference in Season 8, remain the slight favorites over the Raiders with Rachel Ann Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, MJ Balse, Nene Bautista, Ginie Sabas and ace setter Tina Salak expected to lead their charge again.