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Spikers’ Final 4 heats up

In Photo: Alyssa Valdez powers PLDT Home Ultera against Army, 25-16, 25-22, 19-25, 25-16, at The Arena in San Juan City on Sunday to send the Shakey’s V-League Season 12- Open Conference finals victory to a deciding Game Three on Sunday. Valdez was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.

PLDT Home Ultera and Cagayan Valley switch rivals on Tuesday, seeking a follow-up to a contrasting pair of five-setters in the semifinal opener as they try to arrange a showdown for the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan City.

The Ultra Fast Spikers fought back from a fourth-set meltdown with a gritty stand in the decider, hacking out a 28-26, 27-29, 25-22, 21-25, 18-16 decision in last Sunday’s start of the single-round Final Four phase of the inaugural league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.

In contrast, Cagayan, which topped the single-round eight-team eliminations with a 6-1 mark, needed to fight back from a 1-2 set deficit to snatch a tough 33-35, 25-23, 16-25, 25-21, 15-11 victory over Cignal to tie PLDT on top.

The Rising Suns and the Ultra Fast Spikers hope to score a repeat over the Airmen and HD Spikers at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, and turn their final semis duel on Thursday into a preview of the championship.

Games can be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.

But a pair of reversals also looms, given the outcome of the first two Final Four matches, where the Airmen and the HD Spikers practically lost on endgame breaks.

Still, emphasis will be on poise and the ability to neutralize the other team’s attacks, plus solid reception and net defense needed in this kind of power duels.

Mark Alfafara, who unloaded a 24-hit game against Air Force, is again tipped to carry the cudgels for the Ultra Fast Spikers, with Jayson Ramos, Kheeno Franco, Henry Peca-A, Vic de Guzman and Howard Mojica ready to provide help.

But Cignal also boasts of a crack crew of hitters, headed by Lorenzo Capate Jr., Edmar Bonono, Reyson Fuentes and Red Christensen along with blocker and ace setter Ralph Diezmo.

University Athletic Association of the Philippines Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo, on the other hand, hopes to sustain his solid 29-hit performance against Cignal when they slug it out with the Airmen with Rex Intal, Peter Torres, skipper Warren Pirante and Jan Paglinawan raring to provide the additional firepower.

But Air Force also has a power-laden crew in Edwin Tolentino, Jeffrey Malabanan, Ruben Inaudito and team captain Dante Alinsunurin, guaranteeing another pair of nonstop action among the country’s top men’s volley teams.

Image credits: Stephanie Tumampos

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