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ABY Maraño of F2 Logistics, Sisi Rondina of Choco Mucho, Ces Molina of Cignal, Eya Laure of Chery Tiggo and Dell Palomata of PLDT are determined to capture the three remaining semifinal slots in the PVL Invitational Conference. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PVL

Games today:

(PhilSports Arena)


9:30 a.m. — Gerflor vs Akari

12 p.m. — F2 Logistics vs Foton

4 p.m. — Choco Mucho vs Cignal

6:30 p.m. — Chery Tiggo vs PLDT


Five teams still in the running for the remaining three semifinal seats decide their fates when the elimination round of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference comes to a close today at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Chery Tiggo and PLDT collide at 6:30 p.m. to cap the quadruple bill playdate for the last semis ticket in Pool A of this women’s professional league.

Meanwhile, Choco Mucho and Cignal cross paths at 4 p.m. in Pool B for a spot in the next round while F2 Logistics seeks to formalize its semis entry in a showdown against also-ran expansion team Foton at 12 p.m.

Opening the final day of pool play are Gerflor and Akari at 9:30 a.m. with both teams hoping to notch a win after going winless in their first three outings.

Unbeaten defending champion Creamline occupied the first semis berth in Pool A with the Crossovers and High Speed Hitters duking it out for the remaining seat.

Chery Tiggo and PLDT fashion identical 2-1 win-loss records, both of their recent victories coming at the expense of the lowly Defenders via straight sets.

The Crossovers are on a two-game win streak and will bank on another stellar performance from Mylene Paat, Eya Laure and EJ Laure to get past the High Speed Hitters, who will rely on Dell Palomata, Michelle Morente, Royse Tubino and Fiola Ceballos with Mean Mendrez, Jovy Prado and skipper Mika Reyes still nursing injuries.

But all eyes will be on the Flying Titans-HD Spikers duel which promises an explosive battle between two of the league’s top title contenders.

Choco Mucho, Cignal and F2 Logistics are in a three-way tie on top of Pool B with identical 3-1 slates and nine match points earned each.

The HD Spikers, however, hold the superior set ratio tiebreak followed by the Flying Titans and the Cargo Movers.

Choco Mucho behind Sisi Rondina’s 29-point masterclass in a 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 18-25, 15-10 win over Petro Gazz last Saturday boosted the Flying Titans’ chances of making it to the semis of the mid-season tournament after finishing sixth last year.

Despite being sent to a survival match, Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin doesn’t want to put too much pressure on his team.

“We’re slowly establishing Choco Mucho here in the PVL,” Alinsunurin said.

“We’re not in a hurry but in this situation, we want to make our presence felt and make other teams notice how Choco Mucho is slowly improving in terms of skills and the things we want to do inside the court.”

Cignal, on the other hand, looks to ride the momentum of its two-game win run to advance. The HD Spikers, the bronze medalist last season, crushed Farm Fresh, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18, last Thursday.

Cignal head coach Shaq delos Santos wants to take advantage of his familiarity with Rondina, who played under him in Petron in the defunct Philippine Superliga, to neutralize her at the attack zone.

“It will be an advantage because I know how she plays, especially during crucial matches. She plays with high adrenaline. We know how she plays so we need to be ready,” Delos Santos said.

“We expect this to be a close fight.”

Aside from Rondina, the HD Spikers are also bracing for tough resistance from Choco Mucho middles Cherry Nunag and Maddie Madayag as well as wingers Caitlyn Viray and Des Cheng while Ces Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Ria Meneses and Vanie Gandler are expected to banner Cignal.

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