PVL: PLDT nails No. 3 spot, sets up semis clash with Petro Gazz
MANILA, Philippines—PLDT forged a best-of-three semifinals duel with Petro Gazz after turning back also-ran Choco Mucho, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at Philsports Arena.
With PLDT’s semifinal seeding at stake, Mean Mendrez unleashed 21 points and Mika Reyes nailed the clutch attacks in the third set that helped the High Speed Hitters recover from a sluggish start and seal the third seed with a 6-2 record in the elimination round.
Mendrez finished with 18 attacks, two aces, and a block, while Reyes unloaded 18 points built on 13 spikes, four blocks, and an ace as PLDT coach Rald Ricafort battles his former team Petro Gazz in a best-of-three semis series starting Saturday, 6:30 p.m., at the same venue in Pasig City.
Defending champion and top seed Creamline sans Alyssa Valdez takes on fourth seed F2 Logistics in the other semis pairing at 4 p.m.
Veteran setter Rhea Dimaculangan paced PLDT with 25 excellent sets with Dell Palomata and Jovy Pradocontributing 12 points each, while Mich Morente added 10 markers, including the game-winning attack that ended their two-hour and 21-minute match.
Libero Kat Arado protected the floor with 31 digs with Prado helping her out with 13 digs and 10 excellent receptions.
Ricafort said their first set loss served as a wake-up call as their goal heading into this game is to seal the No. 3 seed as he prefers facing Petro Gazz, which they beat in the elimination round in five sets, rather than taking on a Creamline side that dominated them in a sweep.
“[The first set] was a lesson for us. We have to learn from those kinds of mistakes. If we can control the game, we have to control it because it’s hard to play against the team, which no longer feels pressure,” the PLDT coach said in Filipino.
PLDT heeded his call and bounced back in the second set with substitute Erika Santos scoring the timely hits before Palomata nailed a block on Isa Molde to tie the game at one set apiece.
But Choco Mucho kept fighting even after trailing, 10-16, in the third, with Kat Tolentino and Des Cheng sparking the team’s comeback that tied the frame, 19-all, before Molde maintained the deadlock at 23-all, breaking down the PLDT blockers.
Reyes gave the High Speed Hitters a 2-1 match advantage after her running attack and quick hit.
“Lahat kami nagreremind sa isa’t isa na kumuha ng isang point lang kasi ayaw rin namin isipin agad na matatalo kami sa set na yun. I think yung reminders ng isa’t isa mas nakatulong talaga para ma-push namin yung isang puntos na yun,” she said.
The High Speed Hitters pulled away in the fourth with a 22-14 margin and never looked back, sending the Flying Titans to their worst PVL finish since joining in 2019.
Choco Mucho, which missed the semis for the third straight tournament, only won two of its eight matches in coach Dante Alinsunurin’s first season.
Molde and Tolentino led the Titans with 14 points each. Bea De Leon had 13 points, while Cheng and Maddie Madayag added eight markers apiece with the latter nailing five blocks.