EXPERIENCE against talent, Alyssa Valdez vs. Rachel Ann Daquis, Dindin Santiago-Manabat opposite Jaja Santiago.
The subplots are overflowing and the drama won’t be lacking when the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Open Conference Finals gets underway on Thursday between defending champion Philippine Army and unbeaten PLDT Home Ultera at The Arena in San Juan.
Daquis, the former league MVP, will be at the forefront of a cohesive Lady Troopers side that also has the likes of veteran setter Tina Salak, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mary Jean Balse, Nene Bautista along with Honey Rose Tubino and guest players Santiago-Manabat and Mina Aganon.
But standing in their way is the talented crew of Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Gretcel Soltones and backed up by veterans Rubie de Leon, Sue Roces, Sasa Devanadera, and Lou Ann Latigay, who kept the Ultra Fast Hitters unbeaten in their campaign all the way to the finals.
That includes a two-game sweep of the reigning champions in both the eliminations and semifinals. PLDT beat Army in straight sets in their first meeting, 25-16, 25-23, 28-26, and then rallied from a set down in their semis encounter to win, 25-21, 24-26, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12.
Despite going winless against PLDT Home Ultera, Army coach Rico de Guzman is confident his first six in Daquis, Santiago-Manabat, Gonzaga, Balse, Salak, and Tubino serves as his biggest weapon against their unbeaten opponent.
“'Yun ang panlaban ko sa PLDT, 'yung starting six ko,” said de Guzman.
PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb acknowledges the Lady Troopers’ cohesion is one advantage they had against his team.
“Lamang lang nila sa amin is yung sense of togetherness nila, ang tatagal na nilang magkasama,” Gorayeb pointed out. “Plus they can do whatever they want, they stay in the same place, they can practice one to five times a day if they want to.”
He added the Ultra Fast Hitters’ character will definitely be tested in the best-of-three finals, pointing out that the two teams will start from scratch from hereon.
“Wala na yang mga unbeaten, unbeaten na 'yan,” he said. “Sa character na lang magkakatalo.”
Cagayan Valley and Meralco meanwhile, face each other in the battle for third starting at 2 p.m.