“It’s for the fans.”
This has been the most famous line describing the thrilling battle between court rivals, from the UAAP to Shakey’s VLeague. And now, the Philippine volleyball industry is again making a buzz, as the PLDT Ultra Hitters and the ARMY Lady Troopers forced an exciting sudden death game for this year’s Shakey’s VLeague Championship.
The whole series alone has been an exciting roller coaster ride for the two teams battling for the golden throne. The PLDT hitters managed to win all their matches from the elimination round up to the semi-finals. While the defending champions Lady Troopers lost matches between the Cagayan Rising Suns and their finals rival, the Ultra Hitters, in the elimination and semis round but able to play and hoping to earn their back to back championship.
But after outlasting Meralco and Rising Suns in the semis, the two last standing teams are very determined to prove that the records made in the first part of the league, all the statics listed, and all the scores they made, are just history, and it is anybody’s ball game now.
The ARMY Troopers outshined and damaged the undefeated streak of the Ultra Fast Hitters after forcing a four set win over Roger Gorayeb’s team in the game 1 of the best of three finals. With the powerful attacks and solid blocking, the ARMY team took the important first game of the championship. Jovelyn Gonzaga, Tina Salak, Nene Bautista, Dindin Manabat, and Rachelle Ann Daquis have shown the courage and the hearts of the defending champions. They made it a tough game for the league’s Most Valuable Player and PLDT top scorer, Alyssa Valdez to score a lot.
But the PLDT Hitters are the undefeated team in the semis and elims for nothing. Valdez, along with colleagues Jaja Santiago, Charo Soriano, and Su Roces, bounced back and gave the Troopers the same exciting four set victory. This time, Valdez was able to do powerful attacks and smart plays that gave her 26 points in game 2. Also, the come back of Soriano from an injury helped the team in their defense, and also, the quick attacks and solid blocking of Santiago contributed a lot for their victory. Daquiz was also not able to give huge points to her team which turned out to be PLDT’s advantage during the match.
Now, a decider is about to happen. Again, like the opening of the finals, it is anybody’s game. It is a very exciting match because everybody is expecting a tight match between the two teams. PLDT key player Valdez, along with Santiago, Soriano, Roces, and liberos Lazaro and Pantone should deliver a good game and maintain their good floor defense over the powerful team of ARMY. In the side of the Lady Troopers, their advantage should be their good line up, from the first six, up to the ones sitting and waiting on the bench. They have many good players which they can use against the PLDT team that uses almost the same players the whole match. Plus the smart plays and good leadership of Salak and the team up of Gonzaga and Daquis can help them a lot in winning the conference.
The date, as I write this article, of the final match is yet to be determined. But I know that the two teams are preparing for a good game that every volleyball fan will remember.