Philippine Super Liga: Cagayan Valley stays undefeated, Army and Petron notch 1st wins

Games Friday (The Arena, San Juan City)

2:00PM Cagayan Valley vs. PLDT MyDSL*

4:00PM Petron vs. TMS-Philippine Army*

6:00PM Cignal HD vs. Bingo Milyonaryo

*Games to be aired on Solar Sports starting 4:00PM

THE ARENA, San Juan City—With this venue about three quarters full, Day #2 of the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) Invitational saw the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns go the distance for the second straight game and repulsed a spirited Bingo Milyonaryo Puffins squad 16-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-15, 15-13 to remain unscathed while the TMS-Philippine Army and Petron needed four sets to capture their first victories.

Joy Benito (#12) is mobbed by her Cagayan Valley teammates in the win (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

The Rising Suns, fresh off their similar five-set conquest of the tournament favourite Lady Troopers on opening day, got a big lift off the bench from former San Sebastian standout Analyn Joy Benito who finished with 18 points including the final two spikes of the match even as the Puffins showed vast improvements from its opening day loss against the Speed Boosters of PLDT MyDSL. Bingo Milyonaryo actually had their way in the opening set behind the aggression of reigning UAAP Finals MVP Michele Gumabao, who scored a team-high 19 points in the defeat. Gumabao was back stopped by a resurgent Stephanie Mercado and an inspired Ivy Remulla with eleven markers a piece and defensive specialist Mic-Mic Laborte, who tallied ten.

Veteran open-hitter Joy Cases also scored 18 for Cagayan Valley, but it was their shift to a 4-2 formation that gave them the edge in the final two sets as the presence of two setters in Wendy Semana and Sarah Espelita gave the Rising Suns a speed advantage that the Puffins had a hard time matching.

Puffins' Mic-Mic Laborte scores off a reverse tip (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

Middle-hitter Sandra de los Santos added 12 points, while Jen Manzano (who scored a league-high 22 markers in the opening day triumph against the Lady Troopers) chipped in eight.

For her superb efforts, Benito was feted as the Player of the Game.

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Cagayan Valley (2-0)—most of whose members were assembled right before opening day—now remains the only squad without a loss in the six-team single round robin classification stage, while Bingo Milyonaryo (0-2) is the only winless team, but still have a chance of advancing to the semifinals with still three games left in its schedule.

Cagayan Valley's Sandra de los Santos (#10) rejects Ivy Remulla (#7) of Bingo Milyonaryo (Photo: Arnold Z. Cru …

Meanwhile, Cignal HD’s Venus Bernal went up against her former UST teammate and good friend Mary Jean Balse of the TMS-Philippine Army for the first time ever and set a new league record for most points in a match by garnering 24. However, Bernal failed to get ample support from her present club teammates as the Lady Troopers upended the HD Spikers in four sets, 25-22, 25-15, 25-27, 25-18.

UST reunion (L-R): Venus Bernal, Denise Tan and Mary Jean Balse (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

The lack of height for the Sammy Acaylar-coached Cignal squad became evident at the net as the HD Spikers could only muster one block point—that singular success coming from open-hitter Bernal. The only other Cignal player to reach double-figures in scoring was middle-hitter Honey Royse Tubino who finished with eleven markers as the lack of net defense led to poor offensive execution, despite another brilliant outing for superstar libero Jen Reyes (14 excellent digs, 19 excellent receptions). Starting center Michelle Datuin was held scoreless.

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For the TMS-Philippine Army, it was a complete team effort led by Iloilo’s Nerissa Bautista’s 16 points, supported by skipper Joanne Bunag’s 15 and former national team stalwart Michelle Carolino’s eleven. 5’11” setter Tina Salak led the team in blocking with three while also out-setting her counterpart Arriane Argarin 31-26 in excellent sets. Those were major number catalysts in the Lady Troopers first victory of the tournament.

TMS-PA skipper Joanne Bunag (R) turns back Cignal's Royse Tubino (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

Bautista’s timely hits against a scampering Cignal defense, however, proved to be the ultimate back-breaker for the HD Spikers and she went to be named Player of the Game.

In the third match, Petron—playing without starting setter Rhea Dimaculangan (work commitments) and open-hitter Fille Cainglet (school commitments) leaned on a massive 22 point explotion from center Maika Ortiz and the steady setting of former Ateneo captain Karla Bello to finally break into the win column via a 25-22, 25-19, 17-25, 25-19 triumph over PLDT MyDSL, who were also playing without the services of starting setter Des Patilano. PSBA graduate Joanne Arceo was activated for the game by Head Coach Francis Vicente as back-up to elevated starter May Macatuno.

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PLDT MyDSL Team Captain Lou Ann Latigay—still nursing a sore shoulder—barely played the opening two sets as the Speed Boosters were continually bombarded by the running attacks of Ortiz and the detonations of her former UST mates Angge Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, who added thirteen markers apiece. Another former Tigress in Judy Ann Caballejo scored eight points for the Blaze Lady Spikers.

Petron's Karla Bello tips one over the PLDT defense (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

PLDT MyDSL was paced by Angela Benting who knocked in 21 points while former Adamson University teammate Pau Soriano contributed 17. However, no one else even came close to double-figures as the Speed Boosters now fall into a tie for second place with the TMS-Philippine Army, Cignal HD and their vanquishers, Petron.

Ortiz’s career game would have gotten her the nod for Player of the Game if the match had been televised.

Petron captures its 1st win of the tournament (Photo: Arnold Z. Cruz)

Day #3 will be this Friday, here once again at The Arena for another triple-header starting with the tiff between Cagayan Valley and PLDT MyDSL at 2:00PM, featuring the first ever duel between the Rising Suns crowd-favorite Sheila Pineda and the Speed Boosters’ Soriano in the post-collegiate chapters of their careers. Petron and the TMS-Philippine Army try to go for winning streaks in the second encounter at 4:00PM, while Bingo Milyonaryo searches for its first win when it takes on Cignal HD in the 6:00PM affair. The first two match-ups will be aired on Solar Sports on a slightly delayed basis starting at 4:00PM.

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BOX SCORES:

Match #4—TMS-Philippine Army (1-1) def. Cignal HD (1-1): 25-22, 25-15, 25-27, 25-18

TMS-PA: Bautista 16, Bunag 15, Carolino 11, Salak 8, Balse 7, Alarca 5, Nunag (L) 0, Siatan-Torres (L) 0, Sabas 0.

Cignal HD: Bernal 24, Tubino 11, Gendrauli 9, Aguilar 5, Argarin 4, Acuña 3, R.Manzano 1, Reyes (L) 0, Datuin 0, Sartin 0, Legaspi 0, Tagudin 0.

Match #5—Cagayan Valley (2-0) def. Bingo Milyonaryo (0-2): 16-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-15, 15-13

CVRS: Benito 18, Cases 18, de los Santos 12, J. Manzano 8, de Ramos 5, Pineda 5, Semana 4, Espelita 1, Dionela (L) 0, Mangui 0.

BMo: Gumabao 19, Mercado 11, Remulla 11, Laborte 10, Penetrante-Ouaño 3, Saet 2, Yumang 2, Tabuena-Cruzada 1, Ortega-Patrona 1, Morada 1, Peñano (L) 0, Jose 0.

Match #6—Petron (1-1) def. (1-1) PLDT MyDSL: 25-22, 25-19, 17-25, 25-19

Petron: Ortiz 22, Maizo-Pontillas 13, Tabaquero 13, Caballejo 8, Bello 7, Ho 4, C. Soriano 2, del Rosario (L) 0, Gohing (L) 0, Curato 0, Torrijos 0.

PLDT: Benting 21, P. Soriano 17, Vargas 7, Dawis 5, Eulalio 3, Dolar 3, Latigay 2, Moralde 2, Arceo 1, Gata-Pantone (L) 0, Macatuno 0.

Follow Noel Zarate on Twitter (@NoelZarate) and email sportztackle@yahoo.com

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