MANILA, Philippines – The Chery Tiggo Crossovers finally broke through in their 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference title defense campaign after a much-needed straight-sets win over the Black Mamba Army-Lady Troopers, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19, at the Paco Arena on Tuesday, March 22.
With the win, the defending champions sealed off the eight-team playoff cast with a 1-3 record in Pool A, and sent the winless Troopers to a 0-3 slate. Chery Tiggo also owns the tiebreaker for the fourth and final Pool A seed even if Army wins its last game for a 1-3 standings tie.
Only the seedings from both pools are left to be determined as the rest of the elimination round plays out in the next two days.
In just three sets, Thailand League Best Scorer Mylene Paat went wild for 20 points off 14 attacks, 4 blocks, and 2 aces, while fellow Thailand teammate Dindin Santiago-Manabat followed up a 29-marker outing with 17 points.
After a competitive first set where they only lost by three, 22-25, the Lady Troopers’ morale fell apart in the second frame as the Crossovers mounted a double-digit lead, 23-13, off a 13-6 attack capped off by a Paat kill.
Chery Tiggo left nothing up to chance in the final frame as another 9-3 blitz widened the champions’ gap to 22-13. Not even a last-gasp 6-1 Army fightback was enough to turn the tide as back-to-back Manabat block points sealed the deal.
“We just want to bring out the best of our players. We just have to go back to our basics and lessen our errors,” said head coach Aaron Velez after the game.
Royse Tubino paced the loss as usual with 12 points, while Mich Morente added 8 markers and 10 excellent digs.
The Army will now just fight for pride and a breakthrough upset win on Thursday, March 24, 3 pm, against the undefeated and playoff-bound Cignal HD Spikers.
Meanwhile, Chery Tiggo will intently watch the Wednesday, March 23, 6 pm blockbuster bout between the Creamline Cool Smashers and the Petro Gazz Angels since the winner of that match will be the defending champions’ twice-to-beat opponent in the quarterfinals. – Rappler.com