Another day, another victory for the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters as they recorded their fifth win in as many games by submerging the Philippine Navy Lady Sailors, 25-14, 25-22, 25-14, earlier at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City as part of the single elimination round of the ongoing 12th Season of the Shakey’s V-League.
The result officially books the Ultra Fast Hitters a slot in the semifinals.
Jaja Santiago poured a game-high 11 points to secure another easy victory for her team. In support, Alyssa Valdez, Sue Roces, and Lou Anne Latigay each amassed eight points in limited minutes as PLDT coach, Roger Gorayeb, allotted playing time to all 13 players present—with only Denden Lazaro the notable absentee. Lazaro was nursing sore cheeks that barred her to play the match, according to Gorayeb. Meanwhile, only seven players scored for the Lady Sailors. Hezzymie Acuña, Lexyl Lou Oserio, and Jolina Labiano scooped six points apiece, but to no avail as they cannot avoid the Ultra Fast Hitters from wreaking havoc throughout the contest.
Balanced scoring enabled the PLDT Ultra Fast Hitters to seize an early 8-3 advantage into the game’s first technical timeout. The Lady Sailors managed to come as close as two down, but PLDT launched a huge 11-5 blitz behind Santiago’s four points that paved the way. At 19-11, Navy seemed to be lost and only managed to exchange points with the superior Ultra Fast Hitters. An unfortunate net violation punctuated the first set with PLDT taking it, 25-14.
The Lady Sailors aimed to retaliate in the second set, wherein they were able to take an 8-5 lead in the first technical timeout behind the brilliance of Labiano. Her serves were instrumental to widen a gap in favor of Navy early on. It could have been a great set for the Lady Sailors, if not for costly errors that allowed the Ultra Fast Hitters from getting back on track. After the first technical timeout of the period, Navy had committed five errors as compared to PLDT’s one. Those errors were the difference that tipped the scales, as both teams cancelled out each other on points scored, giving the team in orange and white a slim 16-15 lead in the second technical timeout. Tied at 16-all after miscommunication among PLDT players, the set was fiercely contested with both teams not interested in losing grip of the set. The teams split the next 10 points before Oserio committed two misfired spikes to give her foes a precious 23-21 advantage. Gretchen Soltones and Roces, then, closed out the set for PLDT, making Santiago’s wide effort in between their efforts moot for Navy.
Eager to finish off the opposition, PLDT rallied to another 8-3 lead entering the first technical timeout of the third set. Furthermore, it was Roces, Santiago, and Amanda Villanueva that carried the load for the Ultra Fast Hitters. The lead went to as low as three points though, with Nichaella Caraan finding space in the PLDT defense. Slightly alarmed, the tournament’s only unbeaten side responded with five straight points, most of which came from the towering Santiago. Errors had cost Navy a lot of points in the latter stage of the match, which spoiled any hopes of them making a comeback. To sum up the Lady Sailors’ kind of day, an overhit Oserio spike, not to undermine her achievements for Navy in the game, concluded the match to the dismay of the determined, but outclassed, Navy team, who missed key players Mary Jane Ticar and Lilet Mabbayad in today’s game.
The victory places PLDT well above the rest so far in the competition. They now have an immaculate 5-0 win-loss record and have only lost just one set overall. Nevertheless, Gorayeb is not letting anything but the desire to win linger in his players’ minds. “Bibitbitiin lang namin ‘yung confidence namin dito. Hindi papasok sa ulo natin ‘yan para manalo tayo. Ayaw kong magbago ‘yung iba ng takbo ng character ng team na masaya kami na nananalo kami pero hindi namin ika-yayabang ‘yan,” uttered the veteran volleyball mentor as they are set to face Meralco, perhaps touted by many as a team most capable of pushing the Ultra Fast Hitters to their limits. As for the Philippine Navy, they are tied with Fourbees-Perpetual in fifth place. Both teams sport 2-3 win-loss cards.
PLDT (3) – Santiago 11, Valdez 8, Roces 3, Latigay 8, Soltones 6, Soriano 4, Ferrer 4, Devanadera 2, Kasilag 1, Pantone (L)
Phil. Navy (0) – Acuña 6, Oserio 6, Labiano 6, Martinez 5, Genido 4, Caraan 2, Dela Cruz 1, Velarde (L), Fortuno (L)
Set scores: 25-14, 25-22, 25-14