• Valdez, Soltones rally Smart past PNP


    Cagayan’s Thai reinforcement Kannika Thipachot defies Meralco’s Chinese ace Coco Wang’s outstretched arms as she knocks in a kill during their Shakey’s V-League Open Conference clash.

    Alyssa Valdez and Gretchel Soltones came in just in time to help lift Smart-Maynilad to a come-from-behind 17-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22 victory over a tough Philippine National Police (PNP) side as the Net Spikers bolstered their Final Four bid in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City on Friday.

    Coming in late due to conflict in schedule with their studies, Valdez and Soltones checked in late in the first set and failed to stop the Lady Patrolers. But the power-hitting duo settled down just in time to rally the Net Spikers to their second straight win in the carryover quarterfinal phase for a 6-3 card.

    Smart-Maynilad remained in third behind semifinalists Cagayan Province (8-0) and Army (8-1) with the win serving as a big confidence-boost for its blockbuster duel with Cagayan tomorrow halfway through the quarterfinals.

    Despite their late arrival, Valdez, a Psychology student at Ateneo, still ended up with 27 hits while Soltones, a Tourism student at San Sebastian, provided the needed backup upfront with nine hits.

    “I expected them (Valdez and Soltones) to come in late because of their studies,” said Smart-Maynilad coach Roger Gorayeb in Filipino. “Good thing they came much earlier than expected, they helped save the day.”

    Thai reinforcement Lithawat Kesinee tried to carry the cudgels for the Net Spikers early but just could pull it off against the Lady Patrollers’ Janine Nicole Marciano, Thai import Sangmuang Patcharee and Frances Xinia Molina, allowing PNP to seize the opening set.

    But Valdez and Soltones came in to deliver the blows with the former adding four service aces and two blocks.

    Marciano, Patcharee and Molina led PNP with 16, 14 and 12 hits, respectively, but the Patrolers failed to neutralize the power-hitting troika of Valdez, Soltones and Kesinee and fell to the brink with a 2-7 mark.


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