PVL: Samoilenko powers PLDT’s comeback win vs Army in opener
SANTA ROSA, Laguna — PLDT’s Russian import Elena Savkina-Samoilenko stood tall to complete her team’s come-from-behind 17-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-11, 15-11 victory over United Auctioneers-Army in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Saturday at Sta. Rosa Sports Complex.
The 6-foot-4 outside spiker proved that height is might, unleashing 35 points as she carried the High Speed Hitters, who started lethargic dropping two of the first three sets and going down 1-5 in the fifth set.
Samoilenko willed her team back to tie the decider, 8-all, before she rotated to the back row, following Dell Palomata’s go-ahead kill, 9-8.
But playing at the back didn’t stop the 27-year-old Russian from delivering the goods as she scored four of PLDT’s last six points, including the game-winning spike, to deliver their first win of the season-ending conference after a grueling two-hour and 18-minute match.
“It wasn’t an easy first game for us, especially for the import because they are not that familiar with Philippine volleyball. I told her just to play her game and ask for the ball always, especially in the crucial parts of the match,” said PLDT coach George Pascua of Samoilenko, who made a rousing PVL debut with 32 attacks, two blocks, and an ace with 12 digs.
The locals also stepped up for the High Speed Hitters as Toni Rose Basas was instrumental with 11 points and 14 digs. Setter Rhea Dimaculangan fired four aces to finish with seven points and dished out 21 excellent sets with Palomata, Mika Reyes, and Fiola Ceballos adding 10 markers each.
PLDT had the chance to take a two-set lead in the third frame when it held a 21-16 advantage but it allowed Army to score seven straight points to steal the driver’s seat, 21-23.
The High Speed Hitters still took the set point off Dimaculangan’s ace. 24-23, but a crucial call by the referee, ruling Samoilenko’s spike as an attack error allowed the Lady Troopers to force a deuce before Royse Tubino scored back-to-back kills to take a 2-1 match advantage.
Although it was a crucial call that cost a set, Pascua didn’t let it affect their game, as they moved on and dominated the fourth set with a 14-point win to force a decider.
“I told them it was a judgment call. We can’t contest it. What’s important for us is to keep our goal to win this game. We cannot concentrate on our errors or the referees’ decisions. We just have to play our game,” said Pascua after his team gave up 33 errors.
UAI-Army banked on Canadian Laura Condotta and local star Tubino, who scored 17 points apiece to lead their team. Jovelyn Gonzaga was held to eight points but had 13 digs and eight receptions in a losing effort.
PLDT faces a tall order against Creamline, which won the first two conferences and had international exposure, on Thursday at Philsports Arena. Army tries to bounce back Saturday next week against Akari.
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