By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Games on Friday (The Arena, San Juan)
2 p.m. – FEU vs Air Force
4 p.m. – Navy vs Cagayan
Cagayan Valley finally exposed Smart’s weak plays with a 25-23, 26-24, 25-20 victory yesterday to grab the solo lead in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Skipper Angeli Tabaquero shone with 15 hits, while Thai import Kannika Thipachot scored all her 14 points on attacks as the Rising Suns clinched their second straight victory in as many outings.
Cagayan’s victory also halted Smart’s three-game winning streak that put the latter at second place with 3-1. It also foiled the Net Spikers’ attempt to earn an early quarterfinal playoff berth.
Cagayan’s game plan to stop Smart’s power hitters became evident as Sue Roces and Grethcel Soltones, who are averaging in double figures for the Net Spikers, managed only eight and five points, respectively.
“Nasunod naman yung game plan namin. Maganda na rin yung nagiging samahan ng team ngayon; konti na lang ang mga adjustments,” said Cagayan coach Nestor Pamilar.
Smart’s best attempt at taking charge of the match came in the second set when it led 22-17, but Thipachot stepped up for Cagayan and scored five of the team’s next seven points to tie it at 24-all.
A block from Pau Soriano against Sue Roces gave the Rising Suns the needed edge before Nica Guliman’s block on Aiza Maizo came out wide to give the set victory for Cagayan.
Smart tried to keep it close in the third frame, but Cagayan’s firepower proved to be too much.
Maizo chipped in 13 points and Wenneth Eulalio contributed 11 hits for the Rising Suns, who scored 49 kills out of 122 attempts compared to the Net Spikers’ 34 of 126.
Maru Banaticla, meanwhile, had 15 points and two blocks in a losing effort for Smart, which played with only eight players as Alyssa Valdez and Dindin Santiago still did not suit up for the squad.
In the second match, Meralco leaned on Chinese import Coco Wang as it survived Far Eastern University, 25-12, 25-22, 18-25, 23-25, 15-13, to improve to 2-1.
Tied at 13-all in the deciding set, the 6-foot-3 Wang scored the last two points for the Power Spikers with a block off Bernadette Pons’ spike before sealing the match with a sharp kill.
Wang finished with 23 points, two blocks and three aces.
The Lady Tams dropped to a 0-2 hole.