MANILA, Philippines – This week’s PVL review: On Monday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig, the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference semifinal round, PLDT kept up its bid for a finals spot by defeating Vietnamese team Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, 25 to 23, 25 to 14, 25 to 23, to move up to sole third.
The High Speed Hitters overcame a close first set match that could have gone either way, posted a walk-away victory in the second, pulled away in the third halfway through, and then stopped the Vietnamese late rally on Rachel Austero’s clutch hits, including a match-clinching power tip, to complete their significant one-hour, 35-minute victory.
The High-Speed Hitters evened their record at 2 to 2 and kept pace with Creamline (3 to 0) and Kurashiki (2 to 0) as they prepared to face the Japanese team in their last semifinal match on Thursday. It was a replica of their three-set triumph over F2 Logistics last Saturday.
Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, who lost to Kurashiki in four sets in the visiting teams’ matchup last Saturday, fell to 0-2 and, like Cignal, which had earlier fallen to Kurashiki in three sets, appeared to be headed to the bronze medal matchup.
However, just as the High-Speed Hitters believed they had heard the last of the Vietnamese, the latter struck for four straight hits before PLDT coach Rald Ricafort requested more time.
As a result, Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh’s momentum was somewhat broken as Austero soared for the game-winning goal off Rhea Dimaculangan’s rapid set play after earning the respect and confidence of Ricafort and the playmaker.
Fiola Ceballos finished with 11 points on eight attacks and three aces to lead PLDT in scoring as Jovie Prado was out with an injury and Me-an Mendrez was still struggling to reach her peak performance. With her wide range of hits, Austero stole the show at the endgame, though.
Austero finished with four points after entering the game late in the third.
For the High-Speed Hitters, Honey Royse Tubino finished with 12 points, while Mich Morente equaled Ceballos’ performance and Dell Palomata and Dimaculangan contributed seven and five points, respectively.
While Quynh Pham and My Pha combined for 15 points, Huong Nguyen and Xuan Le scored 14 and 12 points respectively to lead Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh’s charge. However, the Vietnamese team struggled to find a strong finishing kick in the first and third sets and now must win their final three games to remain in the competition.
Tuesday at 4pm, the arduous semis phase resumed and they faced off against the Cool Smashers, starting their long struggle. prior to their 6:30 p.m. matchup with the Freight Movers and the ascendant Japanese.