ARMY boosted its bid for twin titles although it was given a huge scare by a young Ateneo side, 25-22, 25-13, 28-30, 20-25, 16-14, on Tuesday in the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Troopers, who claimed the Super Liga crown just three days ago, scored their sixth win in seven matches and gained a share of the lead with idle PLDT.
After two quick sets, the Lady Troopers went cold and found themselves trailing in the fifth, 3-6, before rallying to take the win.
Rachel Ann Daquis delivered when it mattered most, coming up with three consecutive points to bail out the Lady Troopers, 12-11.
Army scored the last four points as Lady Eagle Jia Morado made a service error, Daquis served up an ace, Nene Bautista delivered a power hit and Jovelyn Gonzaga sealed the victory with a kill.
Daquis poured in 16 points, reigning MVP Gonzaga scored 15, while former MVPs Mary Jean Balse and Bautista added 15 and 11 markers, respectively.
All spots in the six-team quarterfinals had been filled with a few elimination matches to spare as UP and PNP failed to provide a challenge, both still winless in six matches.
Advancing along with PLDT and Army were Air Force (4-3), Cagayan (5-1), NU (2-4), and Ateneo (2-4).
The Lady Troopers took two days off before getting back into action, and needed two hours and 13 minutes to stop Ateneo.
“After winning doon (PSL) wala kaming ensayo ng two days, epekto na rin 'yun sa amin sinabi ko na lang sa kanila na, i-enjoy na lang natin 'to 'wag kayo sisimangot pag lamang ang kalaban, ang importante bumangon tayo,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman.
Army scored a quick second set win but looked disoriented in the third as Ateneo sprinted to a five-point lead, 17-12.
Bautista sparked a 5-0 spurt to tie it at 17, but the Lady Eagles survived a see-saw battle to take the set 30-28.
Army was even more out of focus in the fourth set and gave away nine points to Ateneo through errors, although 13 of its 20 points also came from the Lady Eagles’ miscues.
De Guzman said he was confident despite the fight back from the Lady Eagles.
“Hindi naman ako kinabahan, nagka-momentum lang ang kalaban, gumanda ang opensa ng Ateneo tapos nawalan kami ng receive,” he said.
“Sabi ko na lang bumawi na lang sa fifth set, ’yung third at fourth set pinabayaan na lang namin,” said De Guzman.
Alyssa Valdez scored 29 points and Amy Ahomiro added 14 as suffered its fourth loss in six matches. The Lady Eagles still have an elimination-round match to play against Cagayan Valley on Thursday.