PLDT secured the third seed in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference by defeating Choco Mucho in four sets, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16, on Thursday at the Philsports Arena.
Mean Mendrez and Mika Reyes worked together to help the High Speed Hitters end the elimination round with a 6-2 win-loss record.
Mendrez contributed 21 points with 18 attacks, two aces, and a block, while Reyes had 18 points with 13 attacks, four blocks, and an ace.
The victory earned them a spot in the best-of-three playoffs, where they will face the second-ranked Petro Gazz.
PLDT head coach Rald Ricafort commented, “Lesson sa amin yun [yung first set]. Nagparamdam na yun nung Cignal game, medyo yun nga, yung slow start namin, naging on-off sa elims.”
The High Speed Hitters gained an eight-point lead, 22-14, late in the fourth set due to back-to-back off-the-block hits from Jovy Prado, who finished with a triple-double of 12 points, 13 excellent digs, and 10 excellent receptions.
Regine Arocha converted an off-the-block attack, and Prado and Dell Palomata scored two consecutive points to bring PLDT to match point. A service error from Rhea Dimaculangan put Choco Mucho on the board before Michelle Morente’s down-the-line hit ended the match.
Palomata and Morente contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Rhea Dimaculangan provided 25 excellent sets for the High Speed Hitters, while Kath Arado collected 31 excellent digs.
The Flying Titans pulled ahead in the latter part of the first set with Isa Molde, Maddie Mdayag, and Caitlyn Viray combining in a 4-0 blast that turned a 20-all tie into a 24-20 lead and eventually a 25-21 victory.
Choco Mucho kept the game close again in the second set, tying the score at 23-all before Erika Santos and Palomata sealed the deal to level the game at 1-all.
In the third set, Molde tied the score at 23 once more by piercing through the High Speed Hitters’ blockers. Reyes stepped up from there, unleashing a running attack before converting a quick to give her team a commanding 2-1 advantage.
Kat Tolentino and Molde each scored 14 points, while Des Cheng added 13 points, 13 digs, and 12 receptions as the Flying Titans finished their campaign at sixth with a 2-6 record — their worst finish since joining the league in 2019.
PLDT will face Petro Gazz in the semis at 6:30 PM on Saturday at the same Pasig venue.