With the second round winding down, the race to the 2023 Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) playoffs is almost at its end, with several teams already locking up their spots in the quarterfinals. The first among these teams is the Negros Blue Hawks, which remains on top of the team standings after a couple of big victories despite being tested in both their matches last week.
Negros strengthened their hold on the top spot, moving up to 8-1 and 24 points after a pair of victories over the Marikina Lady Shoemasters and Bacoor City Strikers Metro Land Builders Corp. After surviving Marikina in five sets, the Blue Hawks defeated Bacoor in four sets, 22-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-22. In the 2023 MPVA season’s first game day inside the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig last Sunday, Negros served as the hosts of the three matches and also drew a good-sized crowd of supporters. And after dropping the opening set to the Strikers, the Blue Hawks did not disappoint their supporters, recovering to beat the only team that managed to defeat them in the preliminary round to secure the top spot and a twice-to-beat incentive.
Angel Habacon led the charge for Negros, finishing with a game-high 22 points on 21 attacks for the Blue Hawks, while Ma. Audrei Pagayanan added 13 points built on 7 attacks and 6 blocks to earn Queen of the Court honors, with Andrea Caparal also chipping in with 10 points on 9 attacks and 1 ace. With the loss, Bacoor fell to 6-3 with 17 points, which is still good enough for the third spot in the standings and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, the Biñan Tatakgel – I Am Worldwide showed their resurgence, defeating the Marikina Lady Shoemasters in four sets, 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-21. After starting slow and dropping the first set, Biñan recovered and took the next three sets, with Jorelle Singh leading the way and turning in her best performance of the tournament. Singh torched the Marikina defense and led all scorers with 31 points on 27 attacks, 2 blocks, and 2 service aces. Javen Sabas added 15 points on 14 attacks and 1 ace as the Tatakgel – I Am Worldwide improved to 3-6 and 9 points.
The Lady Shoemasters, on the other hand, fell into a tie with Biñan and the San Juan Lady Knights Go For Gold (3-6, 7 points) at 3-6 and 10 points, with all three teams and the eighth-ranked Caloocan AM Spikers (2-7, 7 points) likely facing a twice-to-win disadvantage in the quarterfinals against higher-ranked opponents.
In the first match of the day at the Ynares Sports Center, the Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers returned to their winning ways and defeated the Nasipit Lady Spikers Agusan Del Norte in straight sets, 25-22, 25-21, 27-25. After a stunning five sets loss to San Juan last Thursday, Rizal was all business against Nasipit and dispatched them in straight sets.
Joan Doguna fired 12 points for the Golden Coolers on 11 points and 1 block, while Janeth Tulang also added 12 points built on 9 attacks and 3 blocks, while Johna Dolorito chipped in with 9 points on 6 attacks and 3 service aces. With the win, the Golden Coolers improved their record to 8-2 with 23 points to keep in step with Negros and stay in the second spot, which also gives them a twice-to-beat edge come the quarterfinals.
The second round action continues in the 2023 MPVA Season on Thursday, November 30, at the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (UPHSD) Gym in Las Piñas. In the first match, Bacoor faces off against Marikina at 1:00 p.m., followed by a 3:30 p.m. encounter between Biñan and Negros. And in the third match of the day, Caloocan and San Juan battle in a crucial match.