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San Juan showdown: PLDT survives PVL 5-set thriller, sends Choco Mucho to 1st loss

JR Isaga

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San Juan showdown: PLDT survives PVL 5-set thriller, sends Choco Mucho to 1st loss

ROARING AHEAD. PLDT spiker Savi Davison reacts in the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference

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PLDT survives a blown two-set lead to hand red-hot Choco Mucho its first loss in the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference, while Cignal blasts Strong Group to create a five-team logjam at No. 1

MANILA, Philippines – PLDT dug deep after blowing a two-set lead in its blockbuster battle with Choco Mucho, pulling through with a thrilling fifth-set escape to send the Flying Titans to their first loss of the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference, 25-20, 25-12, 23-25, 11-25, 15-13, on Tuesday, March 19.

With the heart-stopping win at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City, the High Speed Hitters created a massive five-team logjam at the top with identical 4-1 records alongside Petro Gazz, Cignal, Creamline, and Choco Mucho.

Fil-Canadian star Savie Davison led the marathon with 21 points off 18 attacks and 3 blocks, while veteran setter Kim Fajardo turned in a classic performance against her protege Mars Alba with 22 excellent sets, 8 points, and 12 excellent digs.

Despite consecutive hiccups in the third and fourth sets, PLDT head coach Rald Ricafort was more than satisfied with his wards’ clutch performances as they snapped Choco Mucho’s undefeated run.

“We weren’t thinking about breaking their streak, as this game was more important for us in terms of battling for our goal of making the top four,” the PVL champion coach said in Filipino. “We really needed to win against the top teams.”

“We’re happy that we got this and at least erased our memory last conference of breaking down in the fifth set [against Choco Mucho]. We’re really happy,” he added.

It was a true concerted effort on PLDT’s part, as it got timely contributions as well from the likes of captain Kath Arado (24 excellent digs) and clutch substitute Kiesha Bedonia (4 points in 4th and 5th).

The High Speed Hitters had to also endure an all-around outing from the losing side, as Thang Ponce erupted for 33 excellent digs in 55 attempts, while MVP Sisi Rondina and star opposite Kat Tolentino tallied 25 and 18 points, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Cignal HD Spikers took only a short while in the first game of the double-header to dispatch winless Strong Group Athletics with a 25-7, 25-16, 25-16 blowout to join the 4-1 standings jam.

Three-time Best Setter Gel Cayuna erupted for 21 excellent sets in just three sets plus 5 points, while star sophomore Vanie Gandler broke out of a scoring slump with 16.

Sheeka Espinosa paced SGA’s descent to a 0-5 slate with 8 points as Mary Joy Onofre tallied a game-high 4 blocks to finish with 6 points. –

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