Samoilenko carries PLDT past Army
PLDT unveiled a gem of an import in Elena Samoilenko, who practically did it all for the High Speed Hitters in a thrilling 17-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-11, 15-11 victory over United Auctioneers-Army in the young Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Saturday at Sta. Rosa Sports Complex.
And coach Goerge Pascua is saying that a 35-point performance that was delivered mostly in the clutch is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the talent of the 6-foot-4 Samoilenko is concerned, considering that the towering Russian has yet to adjust to local play.
“It wasn’t an easy first game for us, especially for the import because she is not that familiar with Philippine volleyball,” Pascua said in Filipino. “I told (Samoilenko) just to play her game and ask for the ball always, especially in the crucial parts of the match.”
In the second game, Tai Bierria unloaded 20 points as Cignal spoiled Akari’s debut, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-16.
The 25-year-old American helped the HD Spikers recover from a first-set loss, taking over in the last three sets and finishing with 17 attacks, two blocks and an ace including nine digs to beat the debuting Power Chargers in an hour and 57 minutes.
Samoilenko finished with 32 attacks, two blocks and an ace with 12 digs, scoring four of the last six kills, counting the match-clinching kill, for the High Speed Hitters coming from the back row.
The 27-year-old import willed her team back from a set down and 1-5 behind in the decider before she rotated to the back row, following Dell Palomata’s go-ahead kill, 9-8.
And she was as dominant from there.
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 while dishing out 21 excellent sets, as Palomata, Mika Reyes and Fiola Ceballos added 10 points each.
PLDT had the chance to take a two-set lead in the third frame when it held a 21-16 advantage only to yield seven straight points that allowed Army to steal the set.
UAI-Army banked on Canadian Laura Condotta and local star Royse Tubino, who scored 17 points apiece to lead their team.
PLDT faces a tall order Thursday at Philsports Arena when it battles grand slam-seeking crowd-darling Creamline.
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