RC Cola-Air Force continued its rise, grabbing the solo lead in the Super Liga All Filipino Conference with a tough, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-19, 15-12, win over Cagayan Valley on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Former Lyceum University standout Joy Cases poured in 22 points for the Raiders, while University of Santo Tomas alumni Judy Ann Caballejo and Maika Ortiz added 20 and 13 markers, respectively, as the Raiders scored their third win in as many matches.
Iari Yongco of De La Salle-Dasmariñas chipped in with 16 as RC Cola moved past idle AirAsia and Petron, both at 2-0.
Unlike the quick straight-set wins in the first two matches, the Raiders were made to work much harder this time and needed almost two hours to seal the victory.
“Syempre (masaya), sino ang hindi sasaya na No. 1 spot,” said RC Cola coach Clarence Esteban. “Proud kami kasi ang Air Force na nagbibigay suporta sa amin nasusuklian namin.”
RC Cola is now enjoying the view from the top after languishing in the cellar in the PSL Grand Prix, but Esteban reminded his players that staying in the No. 1 spot will be tough.
“Sobrang pressure ang pagiging No. 1 kaya ang sabi ko sa kanila wag iisipin na first (place), lagi lang nasa baba para ang igagalaw natin all out pa rin,” he said.
Down by two sets, the Raiders struggled at the start of the fourth, 13-14, but Davao’s Jocemer Tapic, Ortiz and Yongco worked together to snatch the lead, 20-14, and take the set.
RC Cola wasted no time in the extra set as it took the lead right away and never looked back.
“Slow start kami kaya nag-five sets, pero hindi naman ako takot sa dikdikan (na game) kasi prepared ang katawan nila sa ganyan na mga laro,” said Esteban.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas finished with 23 points, while team captain Angge Tabaquero and Pau Soriano chipped with 14 and 12, respectively, for the Lady Rising Suns, who suffered their fourth loss in five matches.
RC Cola earlier downed PLDT Home TVolution, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18, then defeated two-time runner-up Cignal, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22.