Ilocos Norte—In a duel of spurts, nerves and stamina, Chery Tiggo proved a lot tougher and steadier than Choco Mucho, scoring a 25-16, 26-24, 25-23 victory yesterday to forge a title clash with fancied Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference here.
The Crossovers kept the momentum of their straight-set victory over the Flying Titans the previous night that forced the decider in their side of the best-of-three semifinal series, dominating the first set then fighting back from five points down in the second to go 2-up.
But they also blew a 15-11 lead in the third as the Flying Titans scored seven unanswered points to regain control, only to crack in the face of the Crossovers’ fiery comeback, setting up the scrambling finish that went Chery Tiggo’s way.
For the Crossovers closed out the pressure-packed duel with grace behind seasoned Dindin Manabat and Mylene Paat while pouncing on the Flying Titans’ miscues at endgame, including a botched defense on a rather straightforward Shaya Adorador hit.
Chery Tiggo and Creamline thus face off in Game One of the best-of-three finals today (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. to be telecast live on One Sports (Free to Air), and One Sports+ (Pay TV) with both channels available for linear streaming on Cignal Play and on gigafest.smart with replays on www.pvl.ph.
Choco Mucho and Petro Gazz dispute third place honors at 2 p.m.
“We just have to be confident, count our blessings and at the same time fight for what we believe in,” said Chery Tiggo coach Aaron Velez, whose charges dealt the Cool Smashers’ only loss via a four-setter in the elims last July 30.
But Creamline has recovered from that setback since, sweeping their last three elims games to clinch the top seeding then easing out the Petro Gazz Angels in two in the Final Four in a six-day-a-week tournament that also put premium on each team's conditioning and endurance.
Chery Tiggo, which also lost in three to Choco Mucho in their series opener last Sunday, thus stayed on track for winning the inaugural pro volley crown on its very first foray in the PVL.
Jaja Santiago, scoring heavily of quick plays off Jasmine Nabor and Gyzelle Sy’s feeds, topscored with 17 points, Manabat finished with 16 hits while Paat and Adorador combined for 15 points to help anchor Chery Tiggo’s one-hour and 28-minute victory.
Nabor also spiked their win with 28 excellent sets after a 26-set performance the last time out.
Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag fired 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Caitlyn Viray added nine hits but the Flying Titans just couldn’t pull it off in nerve-wracking finishes, either blowing it with mishits or erratic defense.
“First of all, we thank the Lord for always gracing us with good health and strength. The players were so committed in our system, to each other,” said Velez who also credited to Choco Mucho for bringing the best out of his team.
“Choco Mucho gave us a good fight and they (Flying Titans) were able to push us to our full potential. We just hope to sustain it (in the finals),” he added.