PHILIPPINE Army made history on Sunday night as it crowned itself the inaugural champion of the Philippine Super Liga.
The Lady Troopers capped a dominant season by toppling Cignal in the winner-take-all Finals, 25-15, 25-18, 14-25, 25-16, before a huge crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The champion took just an hour and 28 minutes to complete the victory, the team's sixth straight since dropping its conference opener against Cagayan Valley, 23-25, 27-25, 24-26, 25-14, 12-15.
In all, Philippine Army finished its campaign with a 6-1 overall record.
Mary Jean Balse, Jovelyn Gonzaga, and Jacqualeline Alarca again delivered the goods for the Lady Troopers, with Balse coming through with 16 points and Gonzaga and Alarca 12 apiece.
“Masaya kasi sa panalong ito parang mga bata kami ulit,” said Tina Salak, named Best Blocker of the tournament. “Napatunayan namin na kahit kini-criticize kami na oldest team daw kami, 'yung oldest (team) ang nag-champion.”
The Lady Troopers went on a fiery start by winning the first two sets, but failed to finish off Cignal after a sluggish third set that saw them commit 12 errors.
The HD Spikers capitalized and seized a 6-1 lead en route to extending the match.
But not to be denied, the Lady Troopers went all-out in the fourth behind an 11-2 run to take a 14-5 lead.
Honey Tubino, the league’s Best Spiker, kept Cignal's hopes alive as she scored three straight points to cut the deficit to 13-18.
Jaqueline Alarca and Jovelyn Gonzaga countered for Philippines Army, with Alarca blocking Danika Gendrauli's two consecutive attacks, and Gonzaga scoring two straight points to make it 23-14 for Army.
Joanne Bunag positioned Army at match point, before Balse sealed the win with a power smash that hit Mariel Legaspi in the face.
“Isa ako sa mga bata sa team kaya kailangan ko tulungan ang teammates ko na veterans,” said Gonzaga, 21.
Tubino was the lone HD Spiker to finish in double figures with 11 points.
Cignal ended the conference with a 4-3 win-loss card.