PVL: PLDT wins back-to-back to stay in semis race, edges Cignal
MANILA, Philippines — Elena Samoilenko exploded for 27 points to lift PLDT to its second straight win after taking down sister team, Cignal, 25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, and staying in the semifinals hunt in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
As they continued to play with their backs against the wall, the Russian spiker once again took matters into her own hands, scattering 23 spikes and four blocks to keep the High Speed Hitters in semis contention with an improved 3-4 record.
When Cignal threatened PLDT to force a decider with a 13-8 spread before it was trimmed to a one-point lead, 15-14, the 6-foot-4 Samoilenko willed her team back, igniting a 7-0 run capped by Dell Palomata’s kill to turn it to a 21-15 advantage.
Palomata stretched PLDT’s lead to 23-19 but Ces Molina and Glaudine Troncoso nailed back-to-back hits to keep them within striking distance, 23-21. Samoilenko stopped the bleeding ending a long rally to reach match point, 24-21.
Rachel Anne Daquis drilled a back row attack but the point was voided as PLDT coach George Pascua’s foot fault challenge went successful, ending the two-hour and 19-minute game.
“I told them our goal is to win this match, as much as possible. When we dropped the third set, I told them: don’t stop because the game is not yet finished,” said High Speed Hitters coach Pascua in Filipino. “Because if we stop after winning the first two sets, it’s possible to blow our lead and lose this game. I reminded them to keep on fighting.”
“I’m just happy that they executed the things we do in practice. For me, when you have a great defense, you have what it takes to stop a strong offensive team. That’s where we focused earlier, our service-receive,” he added.
Palomata was also instrumental for PLDT with 15 points. Mika Reyes had 11 points from seven attacks, three blocks, and an ace, while Toni Rose Basas added 10 markers, including two aces, and had 15 digs.
The High Speed Hitters missed starter Fiola Ceballos for the second straight game due to a muscle strain on her left calf that she suffered two weeks ago in their four-set loss to Petro Gazz in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Ceballos is doubtful when PLDT wraps up its elimination round campaign against Chery Tiggo on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena. But the High Speed Hitters are determined to sweep their last game with their semis chances already out of their hands. Both Creamline and Chery Tiggo are already through to the next round.
“We need at least three sets won because if there will be a tiebreak on the point system at least we have a 3-0 win on our last game. We’re still hoping to reach the semis,” Pascua said.
Cignal’s two-game win streak was snapped, dropping to 3-3.
Tai Bierria led the HD Spikers with 16 points and 13 excellent receptions. Ces Molina had 15 points, while Rose Doria and Ria Meneses chipped in 14 and 12 markers, respectively, as the two middle blockers combined for nine of the team’s 11 blocks.
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