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    Army survives Cagayan in thrilling five-setter for place in Super Liga Finals

    Jul 26, 2013
    Philippine Army's Mary Jean Balse scores over Cagayan Valley's Liza De Ramos and Joy Cases. Dante Peralta

    PHILIPPINE Army dug deep in its arsenal to complete a dramatic come-from-behind win over Cagayan Valley and make the Philippine Super Liga Finals Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    The Lady Troopers took two hours and five minutes to complete the five-setter, nail-biting win, 25-22, 25-22, 25-27, 10-25, 15-13, in the knockout semifinals against the Lady Rising Suns.

    Led by Tina Salak, Michelle Carolino, and Mary Jean Balse, the Lady Troopers leaned on their experience and fought back from a 6-12 deficit in the fifth and deciding set to clinch the victory.

    Just when everything seemed lost, the Lady Troopers came through with six unanswered points to tie the game at 12-all.

    Sandra delos Santos stopped the bleeding for Cagayan, 13-12, but Philippine Army nailed three straight points on back-to-back spikes by Carolino and Jovelyn Gonzaga, and a Balse block on delos Santos to finally seal the hard-earned win.

    “Experience na lang talaga,” said Carolino. “'Yun na ang nagdala sa amin.”

    “Halong relax at pagod na sa fourth set, kaya inupo ko muna 'yung setter ko,” shared Philippine Army coach Rico de Guzman, who opted to rest his stalwarts in the fourth set which the Lady Troopers lost badly, paving the way for the deciding set.

    “Ang sabi ko na lang sa kanila 'wag kayong bibitaw hangga't 'di pa tapos, hanggang 'di pa 15 (ang score nila) 'di pa tapos,” he added.

    Salak came away with 14 points, while Carolino chipped in 12, and Nene Bautista produced 11 for the Lady Troopers, who will battle the winner of the Cignal-Petron match in the other semis pairings.

    The Lady Troopers appeared ready to wrap up the game after winning the first two sets.

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    But the Lady Rising Suns came alive and won the third behind Joy Benito and Bhebs Pineda.

    The Lady Troopers fought back and took the lead, 17-13, but Joy Cases rallied the Lady Rising Suns and positioned them at set point, 25-24, to take the third and kept their hopes alive.

    Cagayan Valley then took advantage of a tiring Philippine Army side to take an early 10-3 lead in the fourth. The Lady Rising Suns then pounded the opposition with a huge 11-1 run to sustain their momentum and pave the way for the thrilling fifth set.

    Cases finished with 18 points, Benito chipped in 12, and Jen Manzano added 11 in a losing effort for Cagayan Valley.

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    Philippine Army's Mary Jean Balse scores over Cagayan Valley's Liza De Ramos and Joy Cases. Dante Peralta
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