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Shakey’s V-League Open: Smart stays unscathed, Cagayan Valley trips PAF in four sets

The newly revised schedule of the SVL Open preliminaries


Smart 2-0

Meralco 1-0

Cagayan Valley 1-0

FEU 0-1

Philippine Air Force 0-1

PNP 0-2

Philippine Army X-X

Philippine Navy X-X

GAMES ON SUNDAY (August 25—The Arena, San Juan City)

2:00PM Philippine Army vs. Philippine Air Force

4:00PM Smart vs. Meralco

THE ARENA, San Juan City (photos to follow)—Thanks to the magic of Live Streaming, I was able to witness the first of the doubleheader in Friday’s action of the ongoing Shakey’s V-League (SVL) Open Conference here even if I was at the Araneta Coliseum to do the scheduled PBA Governors Cup twinbill. My comrades Sev Sarmenta, Noreen Go and Rheena Villamor did a yeoman’s job in bringing the matches to the masses as Smart trounced the PNP Lady Patrollers and Cagayan Valley leaned on red-hot Thai reinforcement Kannika Thipachot to prevail over the Philippine Air Force in both squads’ debut appearances.

Smart def. Philippine National Police 25-14, 25-15, 25-17

After a spirited showing in their first match against Meralco last Sunday, many anticipated that PNP would bring the same brand of intensity that helped them push the Power Spikers to five sets before succumbing to the phalanx of veterans in the decider. However, it appeared that the eight-lady roster of Smart was enough to send them crashing back down as the virtual all-stars of Head Coach Roger Gorayeb spanked the almost hapless Lady Patrollers in straight sets.

Multiple MVP recipient Suzanne Roces paced Smart with 21 markers—which included five service aces—as young open-hitter Gretchel Soltones of San Sebastian added thirteen for their squad and were hardly threatened all throughout. Roces, a former stalwart from the University of the East and a many time member of the national team, was named Player of the Game for her stellar performance.

PNP’s awesome twosome of San Beda’s Frances Molina and Janine Marciano still led their team in scoring with thireteen and ten points, respectively, but were hardly a shadow of their ferocious selves against Meralco where they combined for 44 points.

Smart, still playing without fan-favorite and wunderkind Alyssa Valdez, got contributions across the board and have shown—at least in their first two tiffs—that strength isn’t necessarily in numbers as they bamboozled the PNP defenses in the match that took a little over an hour to capture. Smart remains undefeated and will be tested by Meralco on Sunday to determine which contingent suffers its first loss of the tournament. PNP will have to wait until September 3rd before trying to notch their first win against the highly-touted Philippine Army Lady Troopers.

Cagayan Valley def. Philippine Air Force 25-22, 17-25, 25-14, 25-19

In the second match, a beefed up Philippine Air Force Airwomen showed their wares for the first time this season against the high-octane Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, whose line-up is comprised of ten candidates for the national team.

The nip and tuck first set saw the Rising Suns outlast PAF 25-22 behind an early explosion from former MVP Aiza Maizo-Pontillas. The Airwomen, however, struck back in the second set as Maizo-Pontillas’ college teammate from UST Judy Ann Caballejo led a blistering attack that levelled the match at a set apiece.

In the next two sets, Thipachot—a formerly unheralded 17-year-old from Bangkok—combined with veteran attacker Angge Tabaquero to keep PAF at bay and notch their first victory of the season. Tabaquero’s 21 points—19 of which came from offense—was enough to net her Player of the Game honors.

Another Thai reinforcement in setter Phomia Soraya (yes, the blonde one) held her own against one of the Philippines’ best in Wendy Anne Semana; edging the veteran 35-34 in the excellent sets department and was a major catalyst in the win.

Thipachot and Soraya saw action for the Rising Suns during the Cagayan Friendship Games last June.

Thipachot and Soraya (1st row, 2nd and 3rd from left) in a file photo (Courtesy: Jheck Dionela)

On Thipachot, she’s the first Thai import I’ve seen who has very Filipina looks.

Mukha nga siyang Cagayano eh (She looks like she’s from Cagayan),” a member of the coaching staff quipped during my recent visit to their practice.

“She has a hard time in malls because people speak to her in Tagalog as she doesn’t look foreign at all,” another Rising Suns staffer said.

One thing is for sure: she certainly plays like she’s from Thailand.

This Sunday, still at The Arena in San Juan City, the Lady Troopers make enter their first sortie of the season against PAF in the first game at 2:00PM while sister teams Smart and Meralco lock horns and separate paths in the 4:00PM staging.

Army, installed by many aficionados as the team to beat here, will boasting of an intact line-up from their triumph in the recently concluded Philippine Super Liga (PSL). National team mainstays Mary Jean Balse, Tina Salak and the Carolino sisters Michelle and Mayeth still headline this powerhouse squad whose new recruits include former Navy ace Nerissa Bautista and the celebrated Jovelyn Gonzaga, who represented the Philippines in the beach volleyball competitions of the 2013 Universaide Games in Russia. By the middle of September, the inaugural titlists of this Open Conference in 2011 will also have the services of former Finals MVP Rachel Anne Daquis as she returns from her annual hiatus in Hanover, Germany. Only libero Jen Reyes—now playing for Meralco—is missing from that champion roster. It will, however, be an interesting match-up against the new-look Airwomen.

The first showdown between former Ateneo stars headline the Meralco-Smart clash as Power Spiker Fille Cainglet goes up against Jem Ferrer for the first time in five years. An intriguing match-up up front also looms as Meralco’s Maureen Penetrante-Ouano and Maica Morada attempt to overpower Smart’s Charo Soriano and Nica Guliman, not to mention the meeting to two of perhaps the most animated coaches in the league in Meralco’s Oliver Almadro (a long-time assistant coach to La Salle’s legendary Ramil de Jesus) against Smart’s Gorayeb (the former fiery mentor of Ateneo).

I’ll be broadcasting the matches for GMA News TV probably alongside once again the inimitable Mozzy Ravena and Miss Cavite herself Anne Remulla.

Looks like the weather has been cooperative lately and if it continues on this pace, then we should be in for a jampacked schedule for the rest of the conference. See you at The Arena on Sunday.


Smart (2-0) def. PNP (0-2)

Smart—Roces 21, Soltones 13, Guliman 8, C. Soriano 7, Banaticla 4, de Leon 2, Ferrer 1, Gohing (L) 0.

PNP—Molina 13, Marciano 10, Labrador 2, Datuin 1, Ogana 1, Tadeo (L) 0, Concepcion 0, Mia 0, Dave 0, Castro 0, Remigio 0.

Cagayan Valley (1-0) def. PAF (0-1)

CV—Tabaquero 21, Thipachot 20, Maizo-Pontillas 13, Dawis 7, Eulalio 6, Soraya 4, Benito 1, Dionela (L) 0, Puylong 0, Saet 0.

PAF—Caballejo 18, Ortiz 7, Yongco 7, de Ramos 6, Cases 5, Manzano 3, Semana 2, Abanto 1, Balmaceda (L) 0, Legaspi (L) 0, Andaya 0.

Follow Noel Zarate on Twitter (@NoelZarate) and email…

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