By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The revamped Akari Chargers lived up to the hype of their fans after shocking the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in five grueling sets, 21-25, 25-20, 27-25, 19-25, 15-8, in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference last October 17, 2023, held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Akari got a collective offensive effort from Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Faith Nisperos, Fifi Sharma, Ezra Madrigal, and Trisha Genesis to pull off the impressive win against one of the veteran squads in the tournament.
From the get-go, the Chargers showed their improved floor defense and middle blocking as newcomers Sharma and Justine Jazareno provided the timely spark midway through the tightly contested duel.
It was F2 Logistics that drew first blood in the matchup as newly-turned outside-hitter Ivy Lacsina did the damage every time she received the sweet assist from Mars Alba.
Just when the Cargo Movers thought they could sustain their momentum, the duo of Nisperos and Manabat began to take over for the Chargers offensively, converting every back-row-designed play that helped them retake the tempo of the game.
The third set featured an intense back-and-forth as both squads were deadlocked at 25-all before Nisperos and Manabat scored two straight kills to help the Chargers surge to a 2-1 lead.
F2 Logistics countered back in the following set as the 1-2 punch of Myla Pablo and Lacsina hosted a spiking party to wrap up the fourth period with momentum on their side.
However, Akari started the fifth and deciding set with more hunger as a service ace and a Manabat winner propelled them to a 2-0 advantage.
It was then all Akari as their middle blocking and tremendous defensive communication made the difference in their last six-game possessions.
Needing only two points to close the show, Sharma answered the call from the Akari coaching staff and won the game with a block kill and a service ace.
Manabat top-scored for Akari with 19 points backstopped by Nisperos who contributed 18 markers. Madrigal and Genesis then combined for 27 points and 15 excellent sets.
Meanwhile, the Cargo Movers were without Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili who were nursing respective injuries.