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High Speed Hitters stay alive

PLDT demolished sister team Cignal, 25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, to breathe new life into its flickering semifinal hopes yesterday in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The High Speed Hitters used a scorching run midway through the fourth set to create enough cushion to weather the late rally of the HD Spikers for their second straight win en route to a 3-4 record.

PLDT still needs to win against semis-bound Chery Tiggo on Thursday and hopes to end up with a higher tiebreak in case of a 4-4 tie at the No. 4 spot.

The High Speed Hitters played with a sense of urgency in the first two sets with Russian import Elena Samoilenko saving PLDT in the closing stretch of the second frame, scoring two of the squad’s last three points after trailing 22-23.

Cignal rallied from 13-18 down in the third set with an 8-0 spurt to take a 21-18 lead and eventually stealing the set to extend the match.

“Our goal is to win this game. I told them that the game is not yet finished in just two sets,” PLDT coach George Pascua said.

Samoilenko dropped 27 points with 23 coming off attacks and four from kill blocks.

She also added seven excellent receptions to lead PLDT, which played sans open hitter Fiola Ceballos for the second straight game due to a muscle strain on her left leg.

“We played good in the first two sets but we had trouble with our receive and service in the third set but we’re able to recover in the next set and we won,” Samoilenko said.

Dell Palomata added 15 points, including 12 attacks, Mika Reyes got 11 while Toni Basas posted 10 markers for the High Speed Hitters.

Samoilenko scored three points in the decisive 7-0 blast that put PLDT ahead, 21-15, in the fourth frame.

Cignal answered with a 6-2 counterattack to close in at 21-23 before Samoilenko ended the HD Spikers’ run with an off the block kill.

Pascua then called a crucial attack line challenge that the High Speed Hitters successfully won as Cignal skipper Rachel Anne Daquis was caught stepping on the line as she goes for the backrow attack.

The HD Spikers had their two-game winning streak snapped as they slid to a 3-3 slate tied with idle Choco Mucho.

American reinforcement Tai Bierria finished with 16 points and 13 excellent receptions while Ces Molina got 15 points in just three sets of action for Cignal.

Roselyn Doria scored 14 and Riri Meneses had 12 for the HD Spikers, who gave away 21 points off their errors.

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