In a game with major implications, the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters started off the second round with a five-set win against the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers 25-21, 20-25, 29-27, 13-25, and 15-12 in their PSL Grand Prix 2019 match at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Power Hitters got off to a good start as imports Grace Lazard and Kendra Dahlke got ample support from Aiko Urdas and Sasa Devanadera to fight off a rally by the Lifesavers late in the opening set.
It was a different story in the second set as the Lifesavers crawled their way back courtesy of Karjana Kuthaisong, Kseniya Kocyigit, and Fiola Ceballos.
Just when it looked like the Lifesavers are going to easily take set three at 24-18, Dahlke the Power Hitters connected on six unanswered points to force a deuce. The former Arizona Wildcat continued to dominate in the extension with timely attacks and Lazard made the kill block that clinched the set for the Roger Gorayeb-coached squad.
The Lifesavers capitalized on PLDT’s errors to dominate the fourth. The Power Hitters then dominated the early part of the fifth set before the Lifesavers trimmed the lead to two, 14-12. However, PLDT connected on another point to take their fourth win in eight games. Dahlke led PLDT with 30 points while Lazard contributed 19.
Still coaching despite feeling under the weather, Power Hitters head coach Roger Gorayeb applauded the support that the locals gave their imports. “Malaking bagay ang mga locals namin today. Last game 14 points lang locals namin combined. Si Jasmine (Nabor) na setter mas marami pang napuntos kesa sa mga spikers namin na three points last game. Hindi dapat mangyari yun. So malaking bagay talaga sila. Dapat talaga sama-sama. Dapat magexert ng effort.”
The fiery coach did not even imagine taking the third set but commended the determination of his squad to reverse the outcome. “Hindi ko nga akalain na mananalo pa kami ng third set as we were down 17-23. Parang impossible to win na tapos gumagawa pa yun import ng kabila kaya mabuti na lang at gumana din laro namin.”
Meanwhile, match MVP Dahlke shared in overhauling that deficit in the third set. “We were all feeling a little down. So our biggest thing was to kinda find something that can inspire us. My teammates were playing as hard as they can so I want to play equally as hard for them. My connection with Jasmine is getting better and better as we go on so that made a big difference.”
Kuthaisong paced the Sherwin Meneses-coached squad with 26 points while Ceballos chipped in 18. Bia General continued her fine floor defense with 43 digs.
The PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters (4-4) will try to gain more steam in the second round as they meet the Foton Tornadoes. On the other hand, the Generika Ayala Lifesavers (1-7) will try to get out of a slump when they face the Cignal HD Spikers. Both games will be on March 14 at Filoil.
PLDT (3) – Dahlke 30, Lazard 19, Urdas 11, Alvarez 10, Devanadera 5, Nabor 2, Sta. Rita 1, Latigay 0, Guillerma 0, Soltones 0, Pantone (L)
Generika-Ayala (2) – Kuthaisong 26, Kocyigit 17, Ceballos 16, Meneses 7, Lopez 3, Lavitoria 3, Araneta 2, Hingpit 0, Macatuno 0, Orendain 0, General (L)
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