SMART-Maynilad went through the wringer before pulling off a hard-earned 25-18, 22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 win over Philippine Army in the quarterfinals of the Shakey's V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Friday night.
Thai reinforcement Lithawat Kesinee and Ateneo star Alyssa Valdez delivered the goods for the Net Spikers, whose victory handed over the no. 1 seeding to unbeaten Cagayan Province in the semifinals.
Kesinee fired away 23 points, from 19 spikes and four blocks, while Valdez complemented her with 20 markers on top of 16 hits and four blocks.
The loss left Army (9-2) settling for the no. 2 seed even if it wins its final quarterfinal assignment against the Lady Rising Suns (11-0) on Sunday.
Smart improved to 7-4 overall and needs to win its last game against Meralco also on Sunday to clinch the no. 3 seed.
Philippine Air Force is currently at fourth spot with a 6-5 record, and still has a chance of forcing a tie for the no. 3 seed should it beats also-ran Philippine National Police at the close of the quarterfinals and Meralco wins over Smart-Maynilad.
After Army fought back in the fourth set to extend the match, Smart raced to a commanding 9-5 lead in the deciding set, before the Lady Troopers made a fight out of it for the last time when they tied the contest at 11-all.
But not to be denied, the Net Spikers went on a 3-1 run to move at match point en route to the win.
Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis produced 19 markers each to show the way for Army, while Joanne Bunag and Mary Jean Balse had 11 apiece.