PVL: PLDT gets back at Petro Gazz, forces semis decider

Mich Morente. PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—PLDT bucked a lethargic start before taking down Petro Gazz, 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 to force a rubber match in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference semifinals on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The High Speed Hitters recovered from a lopsided first-set loss, where they trailed by as many as 14, and caught fire in the last three frames to extend the series to a deciding Game 3 on Thursday.

PLDT dominated the last two sets, especially in the fourth where it built a 20-10 lead off Kath Arado’s lucky dig.

“We gave up the first set like we were still warming up. It was really a slow start, we weren’t focused and we lacked the intensity,” said PLDT coach Rald Ricafort in Filipino after getting back at his former team.

“But instead of fighting over it. I just told them to forget the second set but get our act together in the second set onwards. Good thing our match-up worked and even both teams were tired, we leaned on our will to win.”

Rhea Dimaculangan PLDT PVL

PLDT setter Rhea Dimaculangan. PVL PHOTO

Setter Rhea Dimaculangan, who was celebrating her 32nd birthday, orchestrated the High Speed Hitters’ offense with 25 excellent sets while four of her teammates scored in double figures led by Mich Morente’s 16 points.

“Actually, at first, we had doubts if we can win the game. But coach told us that our warm-up is over so we should start moving well and play our usual game,” Dimaculangan said in Filipino. “We started enjoying the game in the second set and it helped us get a good result.”

Libero Kath Arado took care of PLDT’s floor defense with 26 digs and 12 excellent receptions. She also had two points. Jovy Prado was also instrumental with 15 points, 11 digs, and 10 receptions, while Mean Mendrez and Mika Reyes added 11 points each.

The High Speed Hitters squandered a 19-15 lead in the second as Jonah Sabete scored three of the Angels’ six straight points to take a 21-19. Prado tied the set, 22-all, before Reyes committed a service error that gave Petro Gazz a one-point advantage, 23-22, but Erika Santos nailed an equalizing-cross-court hit.

Petro Gazz got the set point after Grethcel Soltones blocked Morente but PLDT called for a challenge, which showed that Soltones’ arm touched the net, giving the set point to the High Speed Hitters, 24-23, before Morente nailed the set-clinching block on Soltones to tie the game one-set apiece.

Sabete led the Angels with 13 points, including two aces, while Soltones and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas added 12 markers each Soltones also tallied 16 digs only to fail to sweep the series.


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