Rhea Dimaculangan had extra motivation heading into PLDT’s Game Two bout against Petro Gazz in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference semifinals.
Dimaculangan, who celebrates her 32nd birthday today, also played on her birth date last year during the group stage of the 2022 Open Conference. The High Speed Hitters went up against Petro Gazz at the Paco Arena where they lost in four sets, 22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 18-25.
Exactly a year later, Dimaculangan found herself pitted against the Angels once again.
Only this time around, the stakes were higher and the High Speed Hitters are fighting for tournament life.
With this, Dimaculangan made sure to celebrate her special day with a win this time around. She steered PLDT to a four-set, 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 win against Petro Gazz in Game Two of the 2023 All-Filipino Conference semifinals to send the series to a winner-take-all Game Three.
“Oo [masaya] kasi last year, Petro Gazz din yung kalaban namin. Four sets din tapos talo din kami. Ayun, bawi na,” said Dimaculangan, who dished out a total of 25 excellent sets and produced a total of four double-digit scorers in the win.
But aside from her personal motivation, what made the win much sweeter for Dimaculangan is that it kept the High Speed Hitters alive in the series after losing to Petro Gazz in Game One via four sets.
The Game Two triumph also helped them move to the cusp of their first-ever finals appearance in the PVL.
Getting the win, however, was not easy as PLDT had to buck a horrible first set that saw them trail by as much as 14 points.
“Actually nung una parang di kami naniniwala na kaya namin. Sabi nga ni coach, ‘tapos na yung warm up niyo.’ Baka naman pwede namang gumalaw na kami ng maayos, maglaro na kami ng normal,” said Dimaculangan.
“So second set inenjoy na lang din namin yung game. Naging maganda yung result. ‘Di naman namin ine-expect. Ang sa’min lang, gawin namin best namin.”
Dimaculangan and the rest of the High Speed Hitters heeded head coach Rald Ricafort’s call. They fended off a late rally by the Angels in the third, before taking lopsided wins in sets three and four en route to the Game Two win.
“Siguro pa lagi ko lang silang nire-remind na gawin lang namin yung normal, yung nage-enjoy kami. Nagtiya-tiyaga kami sa bawat bola na dumadating sa amin and yung every point na paghihirapan talaga namin.”