Customs rebounded from a shock three-set setback to BaliPure with an emphatic 25-17, 26-24, 25-15 romp over erstwhile unbeaten University of Santo Tomas to resume its semifinals drive in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Reinforced Conference before a big weekend crowd at The Arena in San Juan on Saturday.
Except for a second set scare and a little struggle with their service reception, it was all Transformers show with Alyssa Valdez and Thai Kanjana Kuthaisong leading the attack with a combined 35-hit output, Lilet Mabbayad and Rose Marie Vargas backing them up with seven and five points, respectively, and Thai Natthanicha Jaisaen dishing out 44 excellent sets.
Customs pumped in 42 attack points, 15 more than UST and came through with seven blocks, two more than the Tigresses, who made an impressive start with a sweep of their first four games behind a gritty all-Filipino crew.
But they struggled against a star-studded Customs side with top hitter EJ Laure clipped to an eight-point effort by the tall, tough-defending Transformers.
UST did show up with Cherry Rondina but the diminutive but talented spiker, who steered her school to the recent UAAP beach volley crown, could only match Laure’s output while Pam Lastimosa, still far from reaching peak form, chipped in just six hits.
Still, the España-based squad, the winningest in the league sponsored by Shakey’s with six championships, remained on top of the eight-team field with a 4-1 card, assured of at least a playoff for the last semis berth.
But Customs closed in at 3-1 halfway through the single round elims in the season-ending conference of the league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
Valdez, held to a 16-point output by the Water Defenders after firing a league-best 39-hit feat against Laoag, hammered in 15 attack points and had two blocks and two aces but the former two-time league MVP drew solid backup this time from Kuthaisong, who closed out the last two frames with her patented vicious kills.
Mabbayad, meanwhile, provided the spunk and experience in the second set, coming through with blocks, power tips and scoring on combination plays to help lift the Transformers, who blew a 20-18 lead but fought back from 22-24 down by winning the last four points.
Earlier, Lorenzo Capate, Jr. saved his best for last as he powered defending champion Cignal TV, Inc. to a nail-biting, five-set win over hard-fighting Champion Supra, 25-18, 37-35, 23-25, 17-25, 15-12, in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Third Conference.
Already explosive in the early going as he kept the HD Spikers in the thick of the fight, the former San Beda College star took charge in the decider, pounding in the last six of his 27 points to repulse the Champion Supra Smashers and hand Cignal its second victory in three games. His final point, a power attack, sealed the game for his team after Champion Supra pulled to within, 12-14.
Capate also drew solid support from Peter Torres, Herschel Ramos, Ysay Marasigan and Edgar Bonono as they combined for 79 points.
Joven Camaganakan topscored for Champion Supra with 28 points, 26 of them on spikes. Arjay Onia, one of seven players on loan from De La Salle University-Taft, collected 22 points while Berlin Paglinawan contributed 18 hits for the Smashers, who slid to 0-2.