PLDT wins V-League Open Conference title after five-set epic with Army

By Ivan Saldajeno
SAN JUAN, MM--PLDT completed a comeback from a Game 1 loss and trounce Army in five sets, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 28-26, 15-13, in the rubber match of the best-of-three Shakey's V-League Open Conference championship at the FilOil Flying V Arena on Sunday.

In front of a sold-out crowd that even forced the security to stop letting people in, the Ultra Fast Spikers bounced back from losing Sets 2 and 3 from winning the opening frame to stun the veteran-laden Lady Troopers.

After pulling away late in Set 1, PLDT badly conceded the second set as errors and Army's defense provided the spark in the said period.

The UFS looked to be heading to another blowout set loss as the Lady Troopers led, 19-14, late in Set 3, but Alyssa Valdez and Gretchel Soltones helped ignite a rally that forced the set to a deuce. The UFS lost steam as Jovelyn Gonzaga scored and Valdez made an error.

PLDT tried to pull away in Set 4, leading 11-7, but Army bounced back and kept the set close before Valdez closed out the extended set with back-to-back kills.

The Lady Troopers made an early run in the deciding set to lead, 4-1, but the UFS fought back and led, 13-11.

Army kept the match interesting as Dindin Manabat scored and the defense forced Valdez to another error.

But Sue Roces scored on a quick spike, and Jaja Santiago sealed the victory for PLDT with her own quick attack.

Valdez made 29 points, while Soltones and Santiago, the eventual Finals MVP, added 17 each for the UFS, who just missed out on a full sweep of the conference after losing Game 1 to the Lady Troopers.

Gonzaga had 19 markers for Army.