PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters gave it their all as they eliminated the gutsy Generika Ayala Lifesavers in five-sets 25-15, 25-20, 24-26, 25-27, 15-12 in the quarterfinals of the PSL Grand Prix 2019 at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
After a close start in the opening set where the Lifesavers were on top 7-6, the Power Hitters got their groove and went on a 11-2 run led by Kendra Dahlke and Aiko Urdas. But the Sherwin Meneses-mentored squad would not just go down without a fight as their reinforcements Kanjana Kuthaisong and Kseniya Kocyigit tried their best to stage a comeback but PLDT’s composure via a Dahlke block was enough for them to nail the opening set.
The Power Hitters continued their great connection in the second set as Jasmine Nabor found her hitters in time for Dahlke and Grace Lazard to get their points but the trio of Kuthaisong, Kocyigit and Ria Meneses tried to pump life to the Lifesavers to save their tournament lives but PLDT showed they wanted to win it more as Dahlke scored on a block to close the second set.
It was a different story in the third set as the Lifesavers went in an early 19-14 lead led by Meneses and Ceballos but the Power Hitters fought back courtesy of Urdas and Lazard. As the set was about to close, Generika Ayala and PLDT stood toe to toe up to the closing stages of the match up until Ceballos and team captain Angeli Araneta scored on spikes to win the third set.
The fourth set was all heart for both PLDT and Generika-Ayala as both teams are showing everyone who should go to the semifinals with perfect floor defense by both squads and timely hits by Araneta, who finished with nine points in the set, tied it at 24-all. It took an attack error by by Grethcel Soltones and a quick play by Meneses to lift the Lifesavers in the fourth set and force a fifth set.
The fifth set was a fast start for the Lifesavers as they were up 6-1 on hits by Kuthaisong and Araneta but the Power Hitters found their connection via three blocks by Urdas and Lazard to tie it at 6-all. it was a see-saw battle from there as both teams were not giving an inch. With Dahlke and Kuthaisong having a spike-off, it was the Power Hitters finishing the match via a Dahlke down the line hit and moving to the semifinals.
The Power Hitters, which lost libero Lizlee Ann Pantone in the fourth set due to cramps, were led by Dahlke with 37 points, 33 on spikes, followed by Lazard with 25 points. Urdas led the local support of PLDT with 16 points followed by Soltones with 8.
The Lifesavers were led by Kuthaisong with 22 points followed by Araneta with 21. Bia General played an awesome floor game as she finished with 33 digs and 22 excellent receptions.
The Power Hitters will meet the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the best-of-three semifinals series starting on April 23 at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena.
Volleyverse Player of the Game – Jasmine Nabor
It was Dahlke and Lazard who scored well for the Power Hitters but it was the well-orchestrated plays of Jasmine Nabor and her timely dumps that was the x-factor for the Power Hitters. The former NU Lady Bulldog finished with 6 points and 32 excellent sets.
PLDT Home Fibr v Generika Ayala Lifesavers scores
PLDT (3) – Dahlke 37, Lazard 25, Urdas 16, Soltones 8, Nabor 6, Sta. Rita 1, Devanadera 1, Alvarez 0, Pantone (L), Eroa (L)
Generika Ayala (2) – Kuthaisong 22, Araneta 21, Kocyigit 12, Ceballos 11, Meneses 10, Orendain 1, Cerveza 1, Hingpit 1, Lavitoria 0, Macatuno 0, General (L)