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PVL: Fifi Sharma tows Akari past upset-seeking Farm Fresh for first-ever win streak


ANTIPOLO – Akari shrugged off its first-set loss to turn back Farm Fresh, winning 21-25, 26-24, 25-15, 25-21, and picking up its first back-to-back wins in franchise history in the 2023 PVL Second All-Filipino Conference, held on Thursday at the Ynares Center here.

With the win, the Chargers improved their standing to 3-1, marking their best start since joining the league in the Reinforced Conference last year.

“It’s always good to win no matter how, but I’m very proud of my team. Even when we lose, I’m proud of them because I know they fight,” said Akari head coach Jorge Souza de Brito.

After splitting the first two sets, the Chargers ran off midway into the third set, unleashing a blistering 12-3 run to turn a slim 13-12 gap into a 25-15 victory, putting them ahead two sets to one against the Foxies.

Akari, despite a strong finish in the third set, found itself trailing 14-16 in the fourth before Fifi Sharma fired back-to-back quick hits to kick-start a 7-1 run, giving them a four-point, 21-17 advantage.

A couple of errors from Faith Nisperos and Sharma brought Farm Fresh within one point, before Dindin Santiago-Manabat stopped the bleeding with a cross-court hit, only to put the lead back up to one, 22-21, after her attack sailed out in the ensuing play.

Erika Raagas followed it up with a down-the-line hit before Santiago-Manabat and Roselle Baliton hammered down two consecutive attacks to finish off the game after almost two hours of action.

“We keep on working, no matter if we play five sets, no matter if we play… because other teams would do the same. But I’m really confident in these players, and I know it’s only the beginning, it’s a fresh new game for us,” said the Brazilian coach.

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Santiago-Manabat once again took charge for the Chargers with 22 points, including 19 attacks and three aces.

Nisperos finished with 15 points to go along with six excellent receptions, while Sharma added 13 points. Raagas, who provided a spark off the bench, had 13 points, including four kill blocks in the victory.

Akari will go up against Cignal next on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Foxies, who went down to 0-4 after the loss, suffered their ninth consecutive loss in the PVL.

Trisha Tubu’s 24-point career-high went down as Farm Fresh continued to spiral down the standings.

Kate Santiago chipped in 15 points, 12 excellent receptions, and nine excellent digs in the loss, while Rizza Cruz had 13 markers.

Farm Fresh will try to end its drought against the defending champion Creamline earlier that day at 4:00 p.m.

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