PLDT head coach George Pascua found two heroes in the form of Jovie Prado and Erika Santos in the High Speed Hitters’ four-set win over Cignal in the semifinals of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference, Saturday night.
With the game hanging in the balance, Pascua decided to shake things up by inserting Prado and Santos to reinforce the likes of Mika Reyes, Dell Palomata, Chin Basas, and Jules Samonte against a stacked HD Spikers team.
“Ako kasi pinakikiramdaman ko sila e. Tinitignan ko sa bench, kapag nakikita ko na yung expression nila yung lalaban, so lahat naman sila gustong lumaban kasi nga nakikita nila yung effort ng mga ate nila,” said PLDT head coach George Pascua after the 15-25, 25-13, 25-23, 25-23 win.
Prado provided the spark in the first three sets and delivered nine points to go along with 21 excellent digs in her first game back after suffering from a left ankle sprain prior to the conference.
Meanwhile, Santos did most of her damage in the crucial fourth set, scoring five of PLDT’s last eight points. She also powered the team’s 9-0 rally that saw them crawl back from a 14-19 deficit.
The former Arellano star said that she just wanted to make up for lost time. So, when Pascua called her number, she made sure to give everything she got despite the pain that she is still feeling from her injury.
“Siguro po sa tagal kong hindi nakapaglaro parang binigay ko na lahat. Bahala na, ilaban ko na, ‘yan yung mindset ko ngayon saka magenjoy pa rin. Ayun lang, focus pa rin sa game and ayun, whatever happens basta nilaban ko. Ayun nanalo naman,” said Prado, who missed a couple of weeks in training due to the injury.
“Nararamdaman ko pa rin yung paa ko pero andoon na ako e, ‘di na pwedeng ‘di ko ilaban yun kasi ako na yung pinili para mag-laro doon. Wala na, masakit ‘man yung paa ko laban pa rin,” she added.
On the other hand, the 22-year-old Santos – who forewent her last three years in La Salle – thanked her older teammates for backing her up, especially during the final stretch of the match where she committed an attack error that pulled Cignal to within two, 22-24.
“Mindset ko siguro yung mga teammates ko po kasi binibigyan po nila ako ng assurance para mag-cover every point, every palo, and every set po na binibigay sakin,” said Santos, who also scored the final two points to seal the win.
“Buo po yung loob ko na pumalo since andyan po yung mga ate ko para mag-cover up sakin.”
Pascua, meanwhile, was just glad to see both Prado and Santos contribute to the victory that improved PLDT’s standing to 2-0 with a league-high six points. This also puts them in a great position to clinch one of the top two spots in the six-team semifinals.
“Gusto rin nilang tumulong at the same time. Ayun, pagkabunot, naging effective sa kanila.”