F2 LOGISTICS saved what could’ve been a disappointing start to an otherwise explosive Premier Volleyball League campaign by beating PLDT in a back-and-forth decider to eke out a 25-22, 25-21, 14-25, 20-25, 16-14 decision in the All-Filipino Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City on Tuesday night.
Aby Marano put one over Mika Reyes in their spirited blocking duel to shatter a 14-all count in the fifth then Kim Dy blasted in a backrow attack that hit Reyes’s arms and bounced off the court, clinching the hard-earned win for the Cargo Movers, who looked in complete control of the match after sweeping the first two sets.
But the High Speed Hitters, finally responding to new coach Rald Ricafort, proved far from being finished, dominating the next two sets behind Reyes, Mary Anne Mendrez, Dell Palomata and Jovie Prado while pouncing on their rivals’ lapses in decision-making and execution to send the match into a decider.
The match that took two hours and 31 minutes to finish was in stark contrast to Creamline and Choco Mucho’s pair of straight-set romps over Petro Gazz and Akari, respectively, to kick off the new season at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Saturday.
It was a see-saw battle from there as F2 and PLDT split the first four points in the decider before the Cargo Movers seized control at 5-2 on a Cha Cruz-Behag kill. But the High Speed Hitters struck back with three straight points, the last off a Marano contested attack error and the two teams slugged it out for eight more deadlocks.
The last was at 14 as Mendrez failed to secure what would’ve been their come-from-behind win with a net touch after new recruit Mich Morente put PLDT at match point with a through-the-block hit.
The big F2 escape likewise saved the day for Myla Pablo, who cited the need for growth in leaving Petro Gazz for F2 Logistics. The former Angel swiftly got untracked with seven points in the opening frame, sustained her charge in the next but slowed down in the last three as the High Speed Hitters toughened up their defense on her.
“It felt like a championship but yeah, it was a good game,” said F2 Logistics’ and the league’s lone lady mentor Regine Diego.
“At least, we saw what we need to train more, where we failed and where we’re good at, so that in the next game, we can adjust,” she added in reaction to their near-foldup.
Pablo unleashed a wide variety of shots that had been her trademark since earning her stripes as a National University Lady Bulldog in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and V-League in 2013, coming away with power blasts, crosscourt hits, off-speed and drop shots that often hit their targets en route to a top-scoring 21-point showing.
But Dy took over in the stretch, scoring a couple of clutch hits, the last on a combo play that forced a tie at 13. She wound up with 17 points while Marano added 11 markers, including three blocks.
Prado led PLDT with 17 points in a superb game-long showing while Palomata scored heavily on quick attacks in the fifth and finished with 16 points. Reyes also scored key hits in the middle and came away with four blocks for a 15-point output while Mendrez wound up with eight points.