By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The PLDT High-Speed Hitters formalized its Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference playoffs ticket after getting the better of the Choco Mucho Flying Titans, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, last March 16, 2023, held at the Philsports Arena.
Needing a momentum-boosting victory to build more confidence heading into the semifinals, the High-Speed Hitters turned it up in the last three sets after crashing out in the opener.
Choco Mucho was on a roll after capitalizing on their efficient middle-blocking spearheaded by former national team member Maddie Madayag who was just rejecting every PLDT spike attempt.
Despite holding their ground in the last four possessions, the Flying Titans closed the first set with back-to-back quick hits and a PLDT unforced error.
PLDT then quickly adjusted to their attack and played a wiser approach to deal with the towering Madayag. From predictable cross-court sets, the High-Speed Hitters varied their offense and regained their rhythm when they scored three drop balls that slowed down the back-and-forth affair.
After settling with their executions, veteran Mika Reyes then buckled to work and gave the Flying Titans a dose of their own medicine when she went berserk with her middle blocking.
Reyes stepped up when it mattered the most and capped off the match with 18 big points built from 13 successful attacks, four blocks, and a service ace.
Everything then just went clicking for the High-Speed Hitters at the start of the third set when Mean Mendrez backstopped Reyes with her crisp offense.
The veteran outside hitter made up for her quiet first set and stunned the Flying Titans in the crucial stretch of the last two sets to finish with 21 points built from 18 successful attacks, two service aces, and a block.
“Lesson sa amin yun yung first set. Nagparamdam na yun nung Cignal game, medyo yun nga, yung slow start namin, naging on-off sa elims,” said PDLT head coach Rald Ricafort.
With the win, PLDT will be squaring off with the Petro Gazz Angels in the semifinals tomorrow at 6:30 PM while the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers and the Creamline Cool Smashers meet in the first game at 4 PM.