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PVL: PLDT overcomes tough Nxled challenge, gains share of third


STA. ROSA — PLDT initially yielded the spotlight to Nxled in a tightly contested opening set clash but took control for the rest of the match as the High Speed Hitters secured a 22-25, 25-17, 25-11, 25-20 victory over the Chameleons, moving them to a joint third place in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference eliminations at the Santa Rosa Sports Complex on Thursday.

Unfazed by the Chameleons’ strong start, the High Speed Hitters shifted gears in the second set and continued to dominate in the next two, displaying their power, precision, and finesse. This left their opponents struggling to keep up and resulted in a one-hour and 46-minute victory.

This marked PLDT’s third consecutive win after losing their opening day game to sister team Cignal in four sets. With this victory, they caught up with the idle Chery Tiggo in third place while also handing the Chameleons their third straight defeat after defeating the Gerflor Defenders in three sets on October 15, launching their inaugural campaign in the league organized by Sports Vision.

“We were able to adjust in time after a slow start. We also found our rhythm, and our attacks improved,” said PLDT’s experienced playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan, referring to the High Speed Hitters’ performance in the opening set, which saw them concede three aces and commit eight unforced errors.

PLDT coach Rald Ricafort also highlighted his team’s shaky start, which ended their six-set winning streak following shutout victories over the Akari Chargers and the Farm Fresh Foxies. “Perhaps this will be a lesson for us – we can’t afford to have a slow start. Nxled serves quite powerfully, which caused us some trouble in the first set. However, we eventually recovered and secured the game,” said Ricafort.

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The High Speed Hitters regrouped in the second set and continued to dominate in the next two, despite facing a slight challenge in the fourth set. They allowed the Chameleons to save four match points before Rachel Austero halted their run and closed it out with a kill.

Filipino-Canadian Savanah Davison led the team with 20 attack points and a total of 21 markers. Erika Santos contributed 17 points, rebounding from her five-point output against the Foxies on October 24, while Honey Royse added 13 markers. The High Speed Hitters outperformed the Chameleons, 67-35, in the spiking duel, with only a three-point difference in the first set.

Mika Reyes and Dell Palomata held down the middle with eight points each, and Austero and Mean Mendrez contributed three markers each in limited playing time. Ricafort also relied on his bench depth to put away their young rivals’ challenge.

Dimaculangan orchestrated the team’s victory with 20 excellent sets, 10 more than her counterpart, Kamille Cal, earning her the game’s top honors.

While the High Speed Hitters turned the game around, the Chameleons struggled to regain their early momentum after outperforming their more favored rivals in the first set. Their intensity and explosiveness were conspicuously absent in the next three sets.

Lycha Ebon, who delivered most of her 11-point effort in the first set, struggled to find her rhythm in the next three sets. Chiara Permentilla finished with seven markers, while Krich Macaslang and Judith Abil matched six-point outputs after a fine display of teamwork and determination in the opening set.

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