Regine Diego, PVL’s first female coach, debuts with victory forged in fire
Regine Diego, the first and only female coach in a female pro league, got her baptism of fire on Tuesday night in F2’s high-wire win over PLDT.
She also knows that the work will be harder for her and the Cargo Movers as the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference drags along after she saw everything that needs improvement in a shaky 25-22, 25-21, 14-25, 20-25, 16-14 victory over PLDT at PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
“It felt like a championship but yeah, it was a good game,” said Diego when asked of a her charges’ near fold up from 2-0 sets up and being dragged into a decider. “At least, we saw what we need to train [on] more, where we failed and where we’re good at, so that in the next game, we can adjust.”
The Cargo Movers looked like they were headed for a breeze after holding off the High Speed Hitters in the first two sets, only to yield the next two before joining opening day winners Creamline and Choco Mucho for the early lead.
And unlike the straight-sets victories of the Cool Smashers and the Flying Titans, F2 needed all of two hours and 31 minutes to carve out this win, made possible by a Kim Kianna Dy backrow kill that grazed the block of Mika Reyes at game point.
Myla Pablo, acquired from Petro Gazz in the busy off-season, led the Cargo Movers with 21 points—most of them coming early—before total team effort helped dismantle the hard-nosed stand of the High Speed Hitters.
The seasoned Aby Maraño also delivered, breaking the game’s last tie at 14 with a kill off Reyes.
Dy wound up with 17 points in a brilliant outing, while Maraño, a veteran of many Philippine Teams who has been the leader of the Cargo Movers, scattered 11 points, with three of them coming off blocks.
The High Speed Hitters, being handled by new coach Rald Ricafort, also showed their character with that rally—and validated their worth as title favorites.
Jovie Prado led PLDT with 17 points and Dell Palomata was a solid defensive force for Ricafort, who left the Angels after steering them to the Reinforced Conference crown to help the High Speed Hitters realize their true potential.
Reyes finished with 15 points for PLDT and Palomata 16. Pablo unleashed a wide variety of shots that had been her trademark since earning her stripes as a National U Lady Bulldog in the UAAP and V-League in 2013, coming away with power blasts, crosscourt hits, off-speed and drop shots that often hit their targets.
Dy, however, took over when it mattered with two clutch hits, the last on a combo play that forced a tie at 13.
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