MANILA, Philippines, March 17 ------ The playoff-bound PLDT High Speed Hitters made sure to end their 2023 PVL All-Filipino elimination round on a high note with a third-seed clinching four-setter over the also-ran Choco Mucho Flying Titans, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, at the PhilSports Arena on Thursday, March 16.
Me-an Mendrez topscored in the win with 21 points off 18 attacks, 2 aces, and 1 block, while Mika Reyes scored 18 with 13 spikes, 4 rejections, and an ace in PLDT’s rise to a 6-2 record, toppling fellow 6-2 squad F2 down to fourth due to a superior point total. The Cargo Movers will now face the top-ranked Creamline Cool Smashers on Saturday, March 18, 4 pm, still at PhilSports to kick off the best-of-three semifinals, while PLDT clashes with second-seeded Petro Gazz Angels at 6:30 pm. All future playoff games then move to the Mall of Asia Arena.
Top Best Libero candidate Kath Arado added 31 more excellent digs to her huge personal tally as Jovy Prado rounded out the stellar team showing with 12 points, 13 excellent digs, and 10 excellent receptions.
Following a pair of close shaves in the second and third sets, PLDT was still unable to shake off Choco Mucho midway through the fourth, holding just a 3-point lead, 15-12. The High Speed Hitters, however, finally broke away comfortably towards the end with a 9-3 run for match point, 24-15, off a Dell Palomata block. Mich Morente then sealed the deal after a stray Titan point with a down-the-line kill. “That first set will be a lesson to us. It already showed against Cignal that we start slow and we were always on-off in the elims,” said PLDT head coach Rald Ricafort in Filipino. “We need to learn from those mistakes if we’re able to control the game anyway.”
Isa Molde and Kat Tolentino paced the conference-ending loss with 14 points apiece, while Bea de Leon scored 13. The Flying Titans settled for a 2-6 slate, their worst finish since joining the PVL in 2019.
In the first game, Cignal HD Spikers ended their Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference campaign on a positive note as they swept the Army Black Mamba, 29-27, 25-19, 25-16. Cignal finished with a 3-5 record, while Army went winless at 0-8.