The Bacoor City Strikers Metro Land Builders Corp had a chance to crown themselves as the first-ever champions of the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) on their home court. But the Negros Blue Hawks had other plans.
With their backs against the wall, Negros denied Bacoor of a sweep in the 2023 MPVA Finals, taking Game 2 of the best-of-three series in four sets, 25-18, 12-25, 25-22, 25-23, to force a winner-take-all Game 3. After dropping Game 1 of the Finals in four sets, the Blue Hawks faced elimination and needed a victory to stay alive and even the series and force a deciding Game 3. And inside a packed Strike Gymnasium in Bacoor, the home of the Strikers, it was Negros who prevailed.
After winning the opening set, it looked as if the Blue Hawks would cruise to victory in the match. But Bacoor responded with an emphatic 25-12 win in Set 2, and were ahead for most of Set 3 before Angel Habacon came alive to score crucial points for the Blue Hawks. And in the fourth set where both teams traded leads, Negros once again came on top to deny the Strikers’ coronation inside their home court.
Habacon finished with 11 points on 11 attacks, with all of her points coming in the third and fourth sets, and was later named as the Queen of the Court for her performance, while Ma. Audrei Pagayanan also scored 11 points on 2 attacks and 9 blocks to help Negros extend the Finals to a rubber match. On the other hand, Mary Rhose Dapol led all scorers with 17 points, while Shaila Omipon scored 14 points and Charmaine Ocado added 13 points for the Strikers in a losing effort.
The two teams will meet one last time in Game 3 of the Finals on Thursday, December 21, 5:00 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, Rizal.
Earlier in the day, the Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers also forced a winner-take-all Game 3 in the battle for bronze after defeating the Marikina Lady Shoemasters in five thrilling sets.
Rizal survived being a set down against Marikina, winning the fourth and fifth sets to complete a 25-21, 19-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-13 victory, extending the bronze medal match to a deciding Game 3. Five players scored in double figures for Rizal, led by Joan Doguna’s 20 points on 19 attacks and 1 service ace. Joanne De Guzman came alive for the Golden Coolers and added 14 points, all of which came on attacks, and was named as the Queen of the Court for her performance. Janeth Tulang contributed 13 points for Rizal, while Stacey Lopez and Hiromi Osada chipped in with 12 points apiece for the Golden Coolers.
Meanwhile, Marikina was led by team captain Shannen Palec’s 16 points, while Justine Rebleza scored 15 points, Mary Joy Onofre added 11 points, while Sydney Niegos ended up with 10 for the Lady Shoemasters. Rizal and Negros battle for the bronze once more on Thursday, December 21, 2:00 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, Rizal before Game 3 of the Finals on the MPVA’s final game day.