PLDT spikers stay perfect after surviving tough stand by Army in V-League
Alyssa Valdez delivered 35 points to pace the unbeaten Ultra Fast Hitters. Freddie Dionisio

ALYSSA Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Gretcel Soltones combined in the fifth set to rescue PLDT Home Ultera in the face of a gritty stand by Philippine Army on Sunday in the Shakey's V-League Season 12 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

Valdez poured in 35 points, including seven in the decider, in another superb performance for the Ultra Fast Hitters, who nonetheless needed every point from the two-time UAAP MVP before pulling off a 25-21, 24-26, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12 victory over Army.

Santiago backed her up with 20 points, highlighted by solid blocks in the fifth set, 13 spikes and six service aces, and Soltones had 10 markers capped by the winning point.

“Importante ang teamwork, ‘yun ang nagdala sa amin sa fifth set,” said Valdez after PLDT emerged from a marathon two-hours, 25-minute match still unscathed through nine matches dating back to the eliminations.

Deprived of a straight-sets win, PLDT will need to win one more win to assure itself of a trip to the finals in the country's pioneering volleyball league.

Valdez and Santiago started a scoring rampage in the fifth set to put the Ultra Fast Hitters ahead, 6-2. But Honey Royse Tubino, guest player Dindin Santiago-Manabat and former MVPs Rachel Anne Daquis and Mary Jean Balse kept Army close, 10-11.

Valdez scored on back-to-back power attacks to widen the gap, 13-10, before Soltones’ through the block spike pushed PLDT Home Ultera to match point, 14-11.

An outside hit by Valdez gave the Lady Troopers a chance but Soltones scored on a down the line attack that sealed the victory.

Skipper Sue Roces also had 10 points for PLDT Home Ultera.

Although the Ultra Fast Hitters gave away more points to the Lady Troopers on errors (39-29), the undefeated squad capitalized on Army’s poor first ball reception to register more service aces (11-4).

Jovelyn Gonzaga made 14 markers for Army while Santiago-Manabat, Balse and Tubino chipped in 13 points apiece. Skipper Tina Salak and Daquis added seven points each.

The defending champions Lady Troopers dropped to 1-1 in the single-round semis.

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