June 11, 2023

PLDT overcomes doubt, slow start to force semis decider

PLDT overcomes doubt, slow start to force semis decider

The PLDT High Speed Hitters are alive and well in this PVL All-Filipino Conference after defeating the Petro Gazz Angels, 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-15, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

Two sets away from elimination, the High Speed Hitters turned up the heat on the Angels starting in the second set, tying the match in thrilling fashion. They then turned the tables completely on the second-seeded Angels in the fourth set, 25-14, before finishing off their furious fight back with a dominant fourth set.   

It was not exactly what PLDT coach Rald Ricafort had in mind, but he is taking the win nonetheless.

“Binigay pa namin ‘yung unang set para mag-warm up. Sobrang slow start,” Ricaford rued. “Hindi naman about sa Petro Gazz, sa ‘min mismo ‘yung first set na wala pa ‘yung focus, wala pa ‘yung intensity. Yun nga, kesa naman pag-awayan pa namin, jinoke ko nalang na sige, okay na ‘yung first set. Basta ‘yung second set onwards ayusin na natin.”

The High Speed Hitters obliged, even if they had doubts at the beginning, according to star setter Rhea Dimaculangan.

“Actually nung una parang ‘di kami naniniwala na kaya namin,” Dimaculangan admitted post-game. “Tapos yun nga, sabi nga ni coach, tapos na ‘yung warmup niyo, so baka naman pwede nang gumalaw na kami ng maayos at maglaro na kami ng normal.”

Ricafort’s wards did restore order starting in that second set, and their confidence only grew from there. It certainly helped that the High Speed Hitters began enjoying the moment rather than be overwhelmed by it.

“‘Yung second [set] parang talagang in-enjoy nalang namin ‘yung game, so ayun, naging maganda ‘yung result,” added Dimaculangan, who was among the heroes of PLDT’s Game 2 win. “‘Di naman namin talaga ine-expect. Ang sa ‘min lang, gawin lang talaga namin ‘yung best namin.”

Their best was good enough on Tuesday, but they will need another inspired effort in 48 hours. At least now, the High Speed Hitters probably believe they can do it.   

(With reports from Mei-Lin Lozada, One Sports Digital)