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Chery Tiggo stops slide, eliminates PLDT

Games Saturday:

(Araneta Coliseum)

2:30 p.m. – Army vs Petro Gazz

5:30 p.m. – Cignal vs F2 Logistics

Semifinals-bound Chery Tiggo sent PLDT packing in the race for the remaining two Final Four seats but not after sweating it out in a thrilling five-setter, 25-20, 18-25, 22-25, 25-16, 18-16, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday.

The Crossovers squandered a five-point lead to start the fifth set and two match point advantages before pulling through in the two-hour, 35-minute duel to arrest a two-game slide, wrapping up their eliminations campaign with a 6-2 win-loss slate.

Mylene Paat finished with 23 points anchored on 20 attacks and had 11 digs to pace Chery Tiggo, which together with league-leading Creamline will wait for the other two teams that will join them in the round robin Final Four slated to begin on 24 November.

Montenegrin import Jelena Cvijovic added 20 points and 21 excellent receptions while Czarina Carandang got 10 markers for the Crossovers, who had to climb from a 1-2 match deficit and save two match points.

“We trust our players. We train for this kind of situation. We just kept on telling them not to play pressured, just play their game,” Chery Tiggo coach Clarence Esteban said.

The Crossovers rode the momentum of their strong fourth set fightback and raced to a 5-0 start in the deciding frame.

Chery Tiggo went up 10-5 but the High Speed Hitters slowly crept back to tie the set at 12. The Crossovers answered with two straight points to move at match point but Russian import Elena Samoilenko scored on back-to-back kills followed by a Del Palomata through the block missile as PLDT stole the match point advantage, 15-14.

Paat forced a deuce with a crosscourt hit before Samoilenko put the High Speed Hitters back on top with an offspeed.

But PLDT wasted a golden opportunity to salvage its campaign after Jules Samonte committed an attack error followed by back-to-back miscues by Palomata on her quick attacks that went long.

“We just kept on telling each other inside the court that this game is ours. We displayed our heart and fighting spirit especially in the fifth set,” Paat said.

Samoilenko ended her first stint in the Philippines with 26 points including 24 off kills while Mika Reyes got 19 markers she collected from 12 attacks, three kill blocks and four aces for the High Speed Hitters, who finished the season-ending conference with a 3-5 mark.

Jovielyn Prado posted 10 points, 17 excellent sets and 16 digs in a losing effort.

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