Philippine Army gets back at Cagayan Valley to regain share of lead in V-League
Jovelyn Gonzaga and Mary Jean Balse of the Army give Pau Soriano of Cagayan Valley no clear look. Jerome Ascano

PHILIPPINE Army bounced back from a recent loss and got back at elimination-round tormentor Cagayan Valley, 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-16, on Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the Shakey's V-League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

The Lady Troopers rediscovered the motivation to win after getting beaten by the Rising Suns in the tournament preliminaries and losing to archrival Air Force two days ago.

Army improved its win-loss record to 5-1 and joined PLDT at the top of the leaderboard, while Cagayan Valley dropped to third at 4-2.

“Pinag-usapan namin ’yung regarding sa nakaraan, ’yung talo namin sa Air Force and ’yung sa first meeting namin sa Cagayan,” said Army coach Rico de Guzman.

Rachel Anne Daquis was given a painkilling injection and showed no signs of the left knee injury that kept her out of the match against Air Force as she poured in 18 points.

Former MVP Nene Bautista came up with 19 points for the Lady Troopers, while Jovelyn Gonzaga and Ging Balse added 14 and 12 markers, respectively.

“Itong second meeting namin andito 'yung intensity namin manalo, nag-step up bawat isa nakita ko naman nag step up silang lahat,” added De Guzman.

“Si Rachel naman ’di pa niya kaya kahapon, nagpa inject lang siya ng pain killer nagpapasalamat nga ako sa kanya sa effort niya para makalaro," said de Guzman.

From 20-all in the third, the Lady Rising Suns broke loose and scored five of the last seven points to extend the match.

But the Lady Troopers regained control in the fourth, taking a 10-7 lead and extending it to 20-13 en route to victory.

“Nag relax lang kami sa third set. Kung tutuusin nga straight sets kaya namin," said De Guzman. "Sabi ko sa mga players 'wag na pakawalan ang fourth set, kung ano ang pagkakamali sa third 'wag na ulitin."

Army thoroughly outplayed Cagayan, coming up with more blocks (11-3) and scored more from the service line (7-5).

Tina Salak registered 38 of the Lady Troopers' 39 excellent sets against 21 of the Lady Rising Suns.

Aiza Maizo came up with 20 points for defending champion Cagayan, while Rosemarie Vargas chipped in with 13. 

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