• BaliPure trounces Laoag, takes bronze

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    BaliPure thwarted Laoag in a tightly fought duel in the middle sets then dominated the fourth to fashion out a 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 victory and claim third place honors in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Saturday.

    Gretchel Soltones fired a match-best 18 hits, including 14 kills, while Amy Ahomiro, scoring on quick hits, Janine Marciano, Dzui Gervacio and Mary May Tajima tossed in 15, 12, 11 and 10 markers, respectively, to help seal the Water Defenders’ two-game sweep of the Power Smashers in their best-of-three series.

    The win capped the day for Soltones, who earlier won the coveted conference MVP honors after a sterling performance the whole tournament of the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.

    “She’s not the league MVP for nothing and she showed us why in this game,” said BaliPure player-coach Charo Soriano of the crisp-hitting, power-serving Soltones.

    Led by Marciano’s conference-high 25-point effort, BaliPure turned back Laoag, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11, in the series’ opener last Wednesday.

    Soltones, a back-to-back NCAA MVP who will play her final season with San Sebastian this year, backed Marciano with a 20-hit effort in Game One.

    What made it sweeter for BaliPure was the Water Defenders completed the feat without Alyssa Valdez, a two-time league MVP who steered Ateneo to a bronze medal in in the ASEAN University Games in Singapore also yesterday.

    Earlier, Soltones was named MVP while Valdez the league’s Best Outside Spiker.

    Other individuaL awardees were Pocari Sweat’s Myla Pablo (2nd Best Outside Spiker), Melissa Gohing (libero) and Michele Gumabao (opposite spiker), Air Force’s Wendy Ann Semana (setter), National U’s Jaja Santiago (1st middle blocker) and State U’s Kat Bersola (2nd middle blocker).

    “I’m happy that my hard work is paying off,” said Soltones of her award.

    BaliPure and Laoag slugged it out in a closely-fought contest in the first three sets with the Power Smashers stealing the opener and the Water Defenders fighting back to sweep the next two.

    Sustaining its back-to-back set wins, BaliPure took control of the fourth but Katherine Villegas rallied Laoag by pumping in four straight points to pull the Power Smashers to within four, 17-21. But she slammed her ensuing serve into the net and the Water Defenders took three of the next five points, including a Jem Ferrer service ace that clinched the win—and third place honors for BaliPure.

    Villegas wound up with 16 hits while Jessica Galanza added 12 points and Jovielyn Prado chipped in 10 markers and Mylene Paat and Wenneth Eulalio scored nine hits apiece for the Power Smashers.

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