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PLDT books last semis seat


PLDT repelled hard-fighting Chery Tiggo, 25-21, 16-25, 25-23, 25-27, 15-12, to clinch the last semifinal seat in Pool A of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference late Tuesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Mean Mendrez and Dell Palomata took over in the fifth set, combining for seven of the High Speed Hitters’ points in the deciding frame including the closing four markers.

PLDT closed the elimination round with a 3-1 win-loss record and joined sister team Cignal in the round robin semifinals along with defending champion Creamline, F2 Logistics and foreign guest clubs Kurashiki Ablaze of Japan and Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh of Vietnam.

The semis will begin on Thursday.

Mendrez fired 16 points she pulled from 13 attacks and three kill blocks including the game-winning denial over Eya Laure for the High Speed Hitters, who dedicated the game to injured winger Jovy Prado.

Prado sustained an anterior cruciate ligament tear following a bad landing during PLDT’s loss to Creamline last week and ruled out for the conference.

Palomata got 14 markers, Michellle Morente posted 12 points and 11 digs while Fiola Ceballos chipped in 10 points and 16 excellent receptions for PLDT.

The High Speed Hitters came back from 6-8 down in the fifth set and broke an 11-11 deadlock with back-to-back hits from Mendrez and Palomata.

Imee Hernandez answered with a quick kill but Palomata blocked her next attempt to push PLDT at match point. Mendez then shut down Laure to end the match.

“I guess it’s a test of character that we always remind our players. We came off a bad loss. So our mindset today was not to put pressure on ourselves. We treated it as a normal game,” PLDT coach Rald Ricafort said.

“Our extra motivation is Jov so we dedicate this win to her.”

The High Speed Hitters had a chance to close out the game in the fourth set but the Crossovers behind Mylene Paat fought back late in the frame to force a decider.

Paat saw her 29 points she collected off 22 spikes, four kill blocks and three aces go down the drain with Chery Tiggo ending its elims campaign with its second loss in four outings.

Pauline Gaston and Hernandez scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, for the Crossovers, who will take on Choco Mucho in the battle for seventh.

Eya Laure was limited to just eight points while EJ Laure had six.

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