Army clipped PLDT Home Telpad in three while the latter shut out Cagayan, also via sweep. But the defending champion Rising Suns stopped the Lady Troopers in four, setting the stage for a three-way logjam as action in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference heats up with the quarterfinal round starting tomorrow (Sunday).
While Air Force stays within striking distance of the leading troika (6-1) at 4-3 mark and National U, the top spiking and blocking team after the elims, a rung behind at 3-4, the semifinal race remains as wide open as ever with hard-luck Ateneo hoping to rebound strong in the quarters.
But with a 2-5 card, marred by back-to-back five-set losses to close out their elims campaign in the league sponsored by Shakey’s, the Lady Eagles will need to sweep their five matches and hope that either NU or Air Force won’t go over seven wins to force at least a playoff for the last Final Four berth.
The top four teams after a single round robin quarters will advance to the crossover semis of the league backed by MIkasa and Accel with the Nos. 1 and 4 squads and the Nos. 2 and 3 teams disputing the final berths in a pair of best-of-three series.
That makes each quarters playdate interesting and crucial with PLDT Home Telpad gaining the first crack at the solo lead against back-to-the-wall Ateneo at 4 p.m. tomorrow as co-leaders Army and Cagayan take a bye.
Air Force and NU tangle in the other match at 2 p.m. at The Arena in San Juan.
But the reigning UAAP champions hope to end their string of sorry finishes that have put to naught Alyssa Valdez’s awesome games, including a pair of 30s. She expectedly topped the scoring after the elims with a 27-hit clip, including 1.7 blocks and 2.7 aces, for a total of 185 points.
Jaja Santiago of NU took the No. 2 spot with 118 followed by PNP’s Frances Molina (113), UP’s Katherine Bersola (102) and Aiza Maizo of Cagayan (99).
Santiago, however, proved to be the most accurate spiker with 44.81 percent success from 95 spikes out of 212 attempts. Valdez produced 158 kills but had more attempts 378 for a 41.80 performance. Myla Pablo, also of NU, was in third with 40.45 percent from 72 connections out of 178 tries.
Cagayan’s Pau Soriano, meanwhile, is the league’s top blocker with 0.75 average per set, including 18 off the kill for seven games, with Iari Yongco of Air Force in second with 0.71 (17) and Ryzabelle Devanadera of PLDT Home Telpad in third with 0.64 (14).
Army’s Rachel Ann Daquis continues to lord it over the field off the service, piling up 20 aces out of 112 attempts in seven games for a 0.80 per set norm. Charo Soriano of PLDT Home Telpad is in second with 0.73 with 16 out of 91 while Mary Jane Balse, also of Army, had 15 aces out of 91 tries for a ;0.60 clip.
Shiela Pineda of Cagayan emerged the best digger after the elims 3.08 average per set followed by Dennise Lazaro of Ateneo (2.87) and Lizlee Pantone of PLDT Home Telpad (2.36) while Rhea Dimaculangan of Air Force is the top setter with 7.54 average per set, including 181 in running sets and 481 in still. UP’s Jewel Lai placed second with 7.20, including 180 (running) and 553 (still) while PLDT’s Rubie de Leon had 7.00, including 154 (running) and 395 (still) for third.