PLDT and Army face off for a place in finals of V-League Open Conference
Alyssa Valdez and the Ultra Fast Hitters look to go 2-0 in the round-robin semifinals. Dante Peralta

PLDT and Army gun clash for the first finals berth on Sunday in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

The Ultra Fast Hitters and Lady Troopers won their opening matches in the round-robin semifinals and a second win will earn them a place in the title match.

PLDT overpowered the Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns in straight sets, while Army edged the Meralco Power Spikers in five.

PLDT will rely again on its crew of young stars headed by Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Gretchel Soltones in the 12:45 p.m. match against the its experienced and talent-laden Army side featuring Jovelyn Gonzaga, Dindin Manabat, Rachel Ann Daquis, Mary Jean Balse and Nerissa Bautista.

Cagayan and Meralco clash in the 2:45 p.m. match, both hoping to avoid slipping further below after losing their first matches in the semifinals.

Valdez, the league’s top scorer and leading MVP candidate, actually struggled against Cagayan, dishing out just eight hits as she tried to recover her bearing from a grueling stint in the Asian Under-23 Championship along with Soltones and Jaja Santiago.

But PLDT hopes that was just a hiccup as the three aces are expected to come out strong to close in on the title.

Despite their struggle against the Power Spikers, the Lady Troopers are also coming into the match oozing confidence with coach Rico de Guzman hoping to spring a surprise again the way he did against Meralco.

De Guzman dispatched Carmina Aganon in the last two sets and the former National U standout responded with key hits, helping lift the Lady Troopers to the thrilling five-setter.

“The good thing about this team is that any player, if called upon, is ready to play and contribute,” said de Guzman, who rallied the Lady Troopers from one-set down to the come-from-behind win.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin