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Santiago takes charge as Chery Tiggo forces winner-take-all PVL game


BACARRA, ILOCOS NORTE — Jaja Santiago made sure that Chery Tiggo will live to fight another day.

The hard-hitting Santiago unleashed a monster performance to lift the Crossovers past Creamline, 25-18, 17-25, 25-16, 25-21 in Game Two of the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference finals at the PCV Socio-Civic Arena, Thursday night.

When the dust settled, the 6-foot-5 tower out of National University ended up with 25 big points built on 20 attacks, three blocks, and two aces.

“Thank you, Lord. We were guided, God is with us, the players were able to play as a team, work as a team, they gave encouraging words and we were able to boost each other’s morale,” said Chery Tiggo head coach Aaron Velez.

Down by one after the second technical timeout of the fourth set, Santiago kick-started a 4-1 spurt to give the Crossovers a 20-17 advantage.

Looking to extend the game to five sets, Michelle Gumabao nailed a hit to bring the Cool Smashers to within two.

Dindin Santiago-Manabat aided her sister in the crucial set, converting a kill to push Chery Tiggo to a 23-20 advantage before Shaya Adorador put the squad at match-point.

Alyssa Valdez tried to replicate her Game One heroics, hammering one down to keep Creamline alive.

However, Santiago-Manabat ended what her sister started, scoring the clincher to send the series to a deciding Game Three.

Santiago-Manabat fired 18 points built on 15 attacks, two blocks, and an ace while Adorador added nine points and 12 reception.

Buding Duremdes bounced back from a dismal Game One performance with 16 excellent digs and 16 excellent receptions while Jasmine Nabor dished out 22 excellent sets.

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Chery Tiggo adjusted well from the Game One loss, sticking to veteran Maika Ortiz — who powered the dominant set one victory through several, well-timed hits.

With Creamline taking over the second set, Velez leaned on Mylene Paat — who rode the bench until set three — and Joy Dacoron in the third set. That proved to have paid dividends as the two provided the Crossovers the much-needed spark for the 2-1 lead.

Alyssa Valdez spearheaded the Cool Smashers with 18 points while Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos added 17 and 15 points, respectively.

Jia Morado was stellar as ever with 41 excellent sets and 13 digs, but it was not enough to help the Cool Smashers clinch the title.

The Chery Tiggo-Creamline Game Three will take place tomorrow, Friday at 3:00 PM.

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