By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Former Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles star Jules Samonte displayed a performance for the ages and helped the PLDT High-Speed Hitters escape the Petro Gazz Angels in five sets, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 21-25, 16-14, in the ongoing 2022 Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
Samonte had her best performance in the conference so far after finishing the nip-and-tuck affair with 18 points built from 16 successful attacks including 15 excellent digs.
The crafty scorer led PLDT’s offensive assault from the second to the third set and provided the stability they needed when they went into a cold stretch.
During the fifth and final set, Mika Reyes spearheaded PLDT to a comfortable 6-0 lead but the explosive duo of MJ Phillips and Myla Pablo established a 7-1 counter to even things at 9-all.
The High-Speed Hitters answered back with their own offensive barrage led by Chin Basas and Eli Soyud to help them clinch a 13-9 lead.
However, a personal run from Phillips pulled Petro Gazz within a point backstopped by a crucial hit from Nicole Tiamzon to deadlock the score again at 14-all.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for Petro Gazz in the next two possessions as Philipps committed a service error followed by the game-sealing point from Heather Guino-o that rewarded PLDT with the hard-earned win.
“Sabi ko nga nung fifth set, patibayan na lang ng dibdib e. Kasi knowing ang Petro Gazz, puro beterano na sila,” said PLDT head coach George Pascua.
The tandem of Rhea Dimaculangan and Reyes was also a key factor in PLDT’s win. Dimaculangan dished out 19 excellent sets while Reyes posted 13 points and a conference-high eight blocks.
With the win, PLDT improved to 2-1 and is currently ranked fourth in the standings, increasing their bid for a playoff run.