Thursday, August 1, 2013

Philippine Army wins first ever Philippine Super Liga Championship

(Photo by Roy Afable)
The highly anticipated Philippine Super Liga Finals as volleyball fans trooped the Mall of Asia Arena to witness the Pro Volleyball league’s first ever championship match. After 3 weeks of heart-stopping volleyball action, only two teams remain – TMS-Philippine Army Lady Troopers and Cignal HD Spikers – clash for the coveted PSL crown.

It was never an easy an journey for both these teams playing in a very tight league schedule but true enough they didn’t disappoint. Army and Cignal are contrasting in more ways than one. The most experienced team in the league, the Lady Troopers were one of the teams highly favored to win it all but Cignal HD also emerged as contenders with their balanced roster.

The matchup also gave fans another glimpse of former UST teammates Venus Bernal – who was named PSL Most Valuable Player – and Jing Balse go at it again but with stakes even higher this time around.

Army easily took advantage of Cignal’s unforced errors which paved the way for easy scoring off attacks on the first set. Cignal HD meanwhile tried to make a scoring run in the second set but PSL’s Best Blocker and Veteran Tina Salak of Army was virtually a wall the entire game.

It was a different story in the third set however; the tables have turned as Army seemed lost with their plays. With that in mind, the league’s Best Spiker Royce Tubino was in beast mode – carrying Cignal HD to take set number 3. Mitch Datuin, Arriane Argarin (PSL’s Best Setter) and Libero Jen Reyes (PSL’s Best Receiver) contributed on defence to prevent what could’ve been a sweep in the title match.

Cignal HD seemed poise to equalize the game after the third set but Army woke up from their brief slump and went back to business again in set number 4. Jovelyn Gonzaga – a late addition to Army’s roster in the PSL Semis – wasted no time and came out with guns a blazing. She literally took control of the game sending a message to Cignal HD that Army’s back in the fold. Not to be outdone, ex UST Tigress Jing Balse made her presence felt scoring from service aces and attacks.

Cignal HD tried to make one last push but Army was just too much to handle. The Lady Troopers emerged victorious over Cignal HD Spikers to become the first ever Philippine Super Liga Champs.

For Army Coach Rico De Guzman, their only loss to Cagayan Valley in the elimination rounds haunted them. They didn’t the same thing to happen to them down the stretch and the third set loss was to their motivation to clinch the title in the fourth set.

“Di na namin kinakailangan magpabaya pa don sa fourth set. Sa third set kasi medyo malayo na eh, kumbaga ibibigay na rin namin yun – di na naming kayang habulin yun,” Coach Rico stressed.

“Pero sa fourth set pinagbutihan na naming yun. Sinabihan ko na yung mga girls na kailangan yung sa receive wag na natin pababayaan. Wag na natin gayahin yung katulad ng nangyari sa Cagayan na naghahabol tayo. Dapat lamangan natin yung kalaban – mas malakas tayo sa kalaban – so huwag pahirapan yung sarili.”

Jing Balse chalked up 16 points, 3 service aces and 2 blocks for Army. Jacq Alarca and Jovelyn Gonzaga added 12 points a piece.

Cignal HD's Royce Tubino fired up 11 points while League MVP Venus Bernal finished with 8 points.

Meanwhile, PLDT MyDSL Spikers won in a gruelling 5-setter over PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo Puffins to claim fith place. Petron Blaze Spikers beat Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns 3 sets to 1, finishing on a high note in third place.

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