Army Lady Troopers first to V-League semifinals after disposing of NU Lady Bulldogs
Jovelyn Gonzaga of the Army adjusts in mid-air to get the ball past National University defenders. Dante Peralta

PHILIPPINE Army recovered from two sets down to turn back National University, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-7, on Sunday and book the first ticket to the semifinals of the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

The Lady Troopers were shocked by the NU Lady Bulldogs’ fine reception, blocking and attack and found themselves trailing by two sets before recovering to steal the win.

Jovelyn Gonzaga came up with 21 points, while Rachel Anne Daquis had 20 as Army improved its win-loss record to 6-2.

Jaja Santiago had 24 points for the Lady Bulldogs, while Rizza Mandapat and Myla Pablo added 13 and 10, respectively, but NU still bowed out of the semis race with a 1-7 slate.

Army secured a spot in the Final Four with a 6-2 card. But it wasn't an easy ride for the Lady Troopers as they took two hours to finish the match in front of 4, 642 spectators.

"Ang sama ng first two sets namin, kaya sabi ko sa kanila (players), gusto niyo bang manalo?" said Army coach Rico de Guzman.

“Tapos ang ganda pa ng laro ng NU, 'yung receive, yung block, 'yung opensa, lahat sa kanila maayos, samantalang kami wala lahat,” he added.

Army found its rhythm only in the third to extend the match then started the fourth set with a 7-0 run to force the decider.

The Lady Troopers broke loose from a close, 6-5, contest and went with an 8-1 rally for the match point, 14-6.

The 6-foot-4 Jaja Santiago scored for NU but veteran setter Tina Salak tossed the ball at the right spot to win the match for Army.

"Sa mga sumunod na set natauhan na sila, nadala na nila 'yung mga sarili nila sa laro," said de Guzman.

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