CAGAYAN Valley remained perfect in the Shakey's V-League Season 10 Open Conference as it survived Smart in a thrilling five-setter on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The match was so tight the teams were even at two sets apiece and 13 all in the fifth, before the Lady Rising Suns sealed the win.
Skipper Angge Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo delivered the final two points for the Lady Rising Suns, who recorded their eighth straight victory, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-13.
Smart had a chance to halt Cagayan's winning run as it gained momentum in the fourth set the Lady Rising Suns proved steadier down the stretch.
Seventeen-year-old Thai reinforcement Kannika Thipachot poured in 22 points, Tabaquero added 13, while Maizo and Wenneth Eulalio had 11 each for Cagayan.
"Hindi pa kasi hundred percent si Angge buti dumating si Bang (Pineda) may kapalitan siya," said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar. "Buti naman kahit papano nakakasurvive pa kami."
The veteran mentor was referring to Tabaquero's shoulder injury sustained during the Power Pinays’ stint in the Asian Championships in Thailand early this month.
In the fourth set, the Net Spikers put up a comfortable 22-15 lead as they silenced the Lady Rising Suns with an 8-0 run, including Gretchel Soltones' three service aces, to extend the match.
"Hindi naman ako kinabahan sa (sunud-sunod na service ni Soltones)," said Pamilar. "Alam ko namang hindi consistent 'yun, hindi naman aabot ng sampu, kaya nag-antay ako na mag-error siya."
"Ang problema lang kasi iba na ang kalaro nila, hinahanap pa nila 'yung mga nakalaban nila sa Thailand," added Pamilar, explaining that his players are still adjusting to the local style of play after seeing action in the Asian meet.
“Ang sabi ko sa kanila ilaro nila 'yung laro na pang local na angat lang ng konti. Ang tataas ng block, tuloy lumulusot ang bola."
Alyssa Valdez produced 22 points, while Thai import Lithawat Kesinee added 15 and Soltones had 12 for Smart (4-4).