After almost two months of intense competition, the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) is getting closer to crowning the champion in its inaugural season!
From 8 teams at the start of the tournament, only two teams remain in the Negros Blue Hawks and the Bacoor City Strikers Metro Land Builders Corp, who are set to meet in the best-of-three Finals starting tomorrow. Negros and Bacoor arranged a title clash after surviving in Game 3 of the semifinals last Wednesday against the Marikina Lady Shoemasters and Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers, respectively. Both the Blue Hawks and Strikers won back-to-back matches in the semifinals after dropping the openers to complete their comeback and barge into the Finals.
Negros booked the first spot in the Finals after a convincing sweep of Marikina, 25-21, 25-16, 25-19, in Game 3 of their semifinal match. Unlike in Game 2 of their series last Sunday, when the Blue Hawks needed five sets to outlast the Lady Shoemasters to keep their season alive, Negros was dominant in Game 3, resembling the team that nearly swept the preliminary round and finished with the best record. Gelah Marie Lopez led Negros with 11 points on 10 attacks and 1 service ace and was named as the Queen of the Matchj, while Christina Apan also finished with 11 points, with 10 of those coming on attacks and 1 point from a service ace.
Angel Habacon chipped in with 10 points, Reyann Cañete, the hero of Negros’ thrilling Game 2 victory, contributed 9 points. For Marikina, Mary Joy Onofre led the Lady Shoemasters with 11 points, while Justine Rebleza added 9 points, but it wasn’t enough to give their team a win. Marikina, which was the lowest-ranked team to reach the semifinals. will look to wrap up their campaign on a high note when they face Rizal in the bronze medal match.
Meanwhile, Bacoor also secured their Finals appearance after taking down Rizal in four sets, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-15. After dropping the opening set, 20-25, the Strikers recovered, defeating the Golden Coolers in an impressive sweep, continuing their dominance from Game 2, where they beat Rizal in straight sets. Winnie Bedaña stepped up for Bacoor and had one of her best performances of the season, finishing with 14 points on 12 attacks, 1 block, and 1 service ace, while Razel Aldea added 13 points, including a whopping 10 blocks, while Shaila Omipon also chipped in with 13 points. For Rizal, it was Janeth Tulang who led the team with 16 points, while Johna Dolorito added 14 points in the loss.
The Golden Coolers, who won their first two meetings with Bacoor this season in reverse sweep fashion, will now battle Marikina in the bronze medal match set on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. Then, all eyes will be on Game 1 of the Finals between Negros and Bacoor, which will begin at 5:00 p.m.!