ANOTHER title for Philippine Air Force; another heartbreak for the De La Salle Lady Spikers.
Air Force fought off a La Salle championship point in the fourth set to beat the Lady Spikers, 25-22, 26-28, 20-25, 26-24, 15-7, and claim a second straight Philippine National Games women’s volleyball crown on Friday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Joy Cases, Maika Ortiz, and Judy Ann Caballejo led the Air Force women in the final set as they raced to a 7-1 advantage and never looked back to book back-to-back titles in the National Games.
Air Force also came storming back from a set down route to the championship last year in beating the Cagayan Valley Bomberinas in the final.
While it was another happy ending for Air Force, it was heartache all over again for the Lady Spikers, who swept the elimination round including a three-set win over their finals opponents.
The title defeat in the PNG mirrored La Salle's meltdown in the UAAP last season where they went undefeated before bowing to archrival Ateneo in the finals despite holding a thrice-to-beat advantage.
“Hindi rin namin inexpect na magiging ganito, kasi tinalo kami ng three sets ng La Salle. Sinabi ko lang sa mga players na kailangan nating bumawi,” said Air Force coach Clarence Esteban.
La Salle players, basically the same team that played in the UAAP last season minus former captain Aby Marano, were visibly stung by the PNG defeat as they let a fourth-set lead slip away.
The Lady Spikers had engineered a comeback from 21-23 down to reach championship point on an Ara Galang kill, 24-23. But La Salle committed two costly errors before Maika Ortiz claimed the point that extended the match to a fifth set.
“Natalo kami ng dalawang magkasunod na set pero hindi bumaba ‘yung laro nila. Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi basta basta ‘yung laban natin," said Esteban. "Ito ‘yung pinaghandaan namin ng dalawang buwan kaya ibigay na nila ang lahat."