IT was a five-set thriller that determined the conference’s best team, at least for the moment.
Sandugo San Sebastian beat defending champion Philippine Army, 25-16, 17-25, 17-25, 25-18, 15-10, in a battle between the top two teams in the Shakey’s V League Open Conference that lived up to its billing on Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Trailing by a set, the Lady Stags got their act together and pulled away from a 16-all standoff by going on a 9-2 run capped by a Rhea Dimaculangan service ace to send the match to a decider.
It was still anybody's game as the Lady Stags held a slim two-point lead, 12-10, in the deciding set before Sandugo won the final three points to seal the win and remain on top on the standings with a perfect 4-0 (win-loss) record.
“Umabot ng five sets yung laban pero ang importante nanalo kami,” said Sandugo coach Roger Gorayeb. “Advantage namin yung nag-lead kami ng 11-8, tapos mula noon nag-relax na kami ng konti.”
Thai imports came big as Jang Bualee and Utaiwan Kaensing produced 22 and 18 points, respectively, for the Lady Stags. Angela Benting stepped up with eight points as replacement for Nene Bautista, who suffered from a knee injury but still came with five markers.
Suzanne Roces and Joy Benito also chipped in eight apiece for Sandugo.
Michelle Carolino, on the other hand, finished with 22 points and led three other Lady Troopers with double figures. 2011 finals MVP Rachel Anne Daquis and Alarca added 12 and Bunag with 10, respectively, as Army slipped to second place with a 3-1 card.
“Ok lang yun,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman. “Di pa naman tapos ang laban. Kinulang lang kami sa kundisyon ng katawan. More practice pa kami sa susunod para ma-develop din ang teamwork.”