THAI reinforcement Kannika Thipachot took charge for Cagayan Valley as the Lady Rising Suns turned back Philippine Air Force, 25-22, 17-25, 25-14, 25-19, in an impressive debut in the Shakey’s V-League 10th Season Open Conference on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The 17-year old Thipachot, the youngest player in the Cagayan squad, had a game-high 20 points in the four-set win.
"Malaki ang difference sa game at sa ensayo namin," said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar. "Hindi pa 'yun ang pina-practice namin kasi."
Pamilar said the victory came despite what he describes as a below-par performance by the team that has been short-handed since it only had Jheck Dionela as the carryover player from the core that won the championship in the Tuguegarao Friendship Games.
"Medyo mababa ang intensity nila ngayon. Tapos isang player na lang ang naiwan sa akin, siguro kasi first game pa lang kaya ganoon," he said.
From a tied 8-8 contest in the fourth set, Thipachot scored three straight points to put Cagayan on the driver’s seat, 11-8.
She later sparked a decisive 7-2 run, which Aiza Maizo capped with a down the line attack to end the match.
Cagayan capitalized on the 20 turnovers by Air Force, particularly three successive miscues down the stretch.
Maizo finished with 13 points for the Lady Rising Suns.
Judy Caballejo single-handedly carried Air Force with 18 points although the team failed to take advantage of the 31 total errors of Cagayan.
The Lady Rising Suns tied Meralco with similar 1-0 record behind league leader Smart-Maynilad (2-0).