Janine Marciano stepped up to fire 17 hits as Cagayan Valley finally showed its true worth and beat Air Force, 28-26, 25-20, 25-20, yesterday to clinch the third Final Four berth while sending the Raiders to a playoff with the Ateneo side for the last semis seat in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Marciano atoned for her so-so showing in the quarters that saw the Rising Suns drop their first four matches and into the brink of elimination from the tournament they ruled via a record 16-game sweep last year, coming through with a 15-attack game and two aces to complement with top hitter Aiza Maizo’s solid 13-point performance.
With Marciano and Maizo alternating on attacks, the Rising Suns took control early in each set although the defending champions had to thwart the Raiders’ repeated fightbacks, particularly in the opening frame that went down-to-the-wire.
The win thus checked Cagayan’s alarming skid for a closing 7-5 card, the same slates put in by Ateneo and Air Force at the close of the quarters phase of the mid-season conference sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa and Accel. But the Rising Suns took the outright berth with a superior tiebreak score, joining Army and PLDT Home Telpad in the semis while leaving the Raiders and the surging Lady Eagles to dispute the last semifinal slot. The playoff will be held on Tuesday.