BaliPure continued to flourish even without ace Alyssa Valdez, fending off Team Iriga to carve out an 18-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-21 victory and move to solo third in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday.
The jump-serving Gretchel Soltones sustained fiery form coming off a tough five-set win over the National Bulldogs last Monday, firing 22 hits while Janine Marciano and Amy Ahomiro combined for 23 points for the undermanned Water Defenders, who leaned on their power while pouncing on the Lady Oragons’ poor service reception.
BaliPure wavered a bit late in the fourth, enabling the Bicol-based squad to strike back and force a tie at 21. But after acting coach Ato Toyco sued for time, the Water Defenders responded with four straight points, capped by a mean Dzi Gervacio attack that wrapped up the 90-minute encounter aired live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23.
BaliPure thus chalked up its second straight win after dropping a four-setter to Air Force last week, staying within striking distance with its tormentor and newcomer Pocari Sweat, which pace the eight-team field with 3-0 marks in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
“Everybody stepped up,” said Toyco, who bucked the absence of four other key players, including player-coach Charo Soriano, Bea Tan, Ella de Jesus and Jem Ferrer.
Iriga, which bounced back from a setback to Laoag with a straight-set romp over Baguio, slid to 1-2 in a tie with the Vigan-based squad and National U.
Grazielle Bombita and Shola Alvarez rammed in 12 hits apiece for Team Iriga which visibly lacked the much-needed firepower as it ended up 13 attack points less than the Water Defenders.
Soltones, who scored 23 hits in BaliPure’s come-from-behind win over NU, including the match-clinching last two points, and Marciano also came away with four aces each to typify their rivals’ sloppy reception.
The Lady Oragons, however, produced more blocks than their fancied rivals, 4-3, with Hannah Faurillo accounting for two.
Setter Karla Bello also outplayed Shyrra Cabriana, coming through with 26 excellent sets as against her counterpart’s 17, giving BaliPure a lot of options for attacks through combination plays and quick sets.
4 p.m. – Baguio vs Pocari
6:30 p.m. – Laoag vs Air Force