After losing Game 2 of the Finals last Tuesday, the Bacoor City Strikers Metro Land Builders Corp had another chance to win the championship in a winner-take-all Game 3 match. And this time, they seized the opportunity to make history.
After failing two secure the title at home two days ago, Bacoor finished the job at the Ynares Center in Antipolo in dominant fashion, sweeping the Negros Blue Hawks in straight sets, 28-26, 25-14, 25-23, to become the champions of the inaugural season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA).
The Strikers were tested in a back-and-forth Set 1, to the delight of the loud crowd that was in attendance for the rubber match of the Finals. But after a competitive opening set, Bacoor asserted their might in Set 2, overwhelming the Blue Hawks 25-14 to take a 2-0 lead and move on the brink of the championship. The Strikers looked to be in control in Set 3, taking a 15-9 lead, before Angel Habacon came alive, leading a big 7-0 run that saw Negros take a 16-15.
But the Cavite-based spikers would not be denied, as Mary Rhose Dapol, Shaila Omipon, and Razel Aldea all joined forces to score crucial points to give their team the lead, with an Omipon attack proving to be the championship point that sealed their victory. Dapol led Bacoor with 13 points on 10 attacks, 1 block, and 2 service aces and was named as the Queen of the Court for her performance, while Omipon added 11 points on 11 attacks, with Aldea chipping in with 10 points built on 7 attacks, 2 blocks, and 1 service ace.
For Negros, it was Habacon who led all scorers with 21 points on 17 attacks, 1 block, and 3 service aces, but did not get enough help from her teammates, who could not match the balanced attack of the Strikers.
Earlier in the day, the Marikina Lady Shoemasters also emerged victorious, overpowering the Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers in five sets, 18-25, 25-9, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13, to claim the bronze and podium finish in the 2023 MPVA season. Marikina continued to live up to their name as the league’s giant-slayers, picking up wins over third seed Bacoor, fourth seed Nasipit, top seed Negros, and defeating second seed Rizal twice to claim the bronze.
Mary Joy Onofre was a force at the net for Marikina, finishing with 22 points on 14 attacks, 7 blocks, and 1 service ace to earn Queen of the Court honors, while Justine Rebleza added 17 points on 14 attacks and 3 service aces, and team captain Shannen Palec contributed 16 points on 12 attacks, 3 blocks, and 1 service ace.
For Rizal, Stacey Lopez led all scorers with 20 points, while Joanne De Guzman, Janeth Tulang, Venice Puzon, and Joan Doguna all finished with 10 points, but it wasn’t enough to give the Golden Coolers the victory on their home court.
After the Strikers clinched the championship, the individual awardees were also given to the league’s top performers, led by Bacoor’s Shaila Omipon, who was named as the Most Valuable Player and First Best Outside Hitter. Teammate Razel Aldea, meanwhile, was named as the First Best Middle Blocker, while Negros’ Angel Habacon was named as the Second best Outside Hitter.
Other Blue Hawks players in Reyann Cañete and Christine Joy Apan were named as the Best Opposite Spiker and Second Best Middle Blocker, respectively, while Marikina’s Alyssa Eroa was adjuged as the league’s Best Libero. Rizal’s Venice Puzon, a back-to-back Best Setter in the NCAA, was also named as the MPVA’s Best Setter, while her teammate Janeth Tulang earned the league’s Best Homegrown Player Award while playing for the Golden Coolers.