MANILA, Philippines – The worst-case scenario came to fruition for PayMaya on Sunday, as the High Flyers suffered a four-set loss to BanKo-Perlas in Game 1 of their best-of-3 semifinals series in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.
The High Flyers advanced outright to the semifinals after finishing the elimination round with a 5-2 win-loss record, which was good enough for the second seed.
However, that meant that PayMaya would be out of action for three weeks, while the rest of the field determined the final two semifinalists in a competitive quarterfinals phase.
While PayMaya – and top-seeded Creamline – rested and recovered, BanKo-Perlas and Pocari stayed active and kept building momentum heading into the Final 4. As a result, the Perlas Spikers grounded the High Flyers in four sets, 25-19, 26-28, 25-23, 25-23. The Cool Smashers were actually worse off, as they lost in straight sets, 25-23, 25-12, 25-23, to the Lady Warriors.
“’Yung three weeks na lay-off na ‘yun, it took a toll on us,” PayMaya coach Roger Gorayeb explained Sunday. “Makikita mo naman – ‘yung galaw namin iba eh.”
Indeed, the High Flyers were quite inefficient, connecting only on 57 of 161 spikes. Import Tess Rountree scored 31 points, but fellow reinforcement Shelby Sullivan was limited to only eight markers. Grethcel Soltones, with 16 points, was the only local in double-digits as Cel Domingo, Jerrili Malabanan, and Aiko Urdas all struggled.
It was not as though PayMaya was utterly complacent during their lay-off as they still played in tune-up games and held practices. However, Gorayeb noted that these scrimmages are very different from actual contests.
“Ang ensayo namin, puro tune-up, kaya lang wala kang hinahabol sa ganoon. Walang pressure,” he explained.
“Nakikipag-compete ka sa kalawang,” he added.
It did not help that several of his players fell ill that week, including Rountree. “Si Tess, itong linggo na ‘to, nagsusuka. Hindi namina alam kung bakit,” said Gorayeb.
However, the coach said they cannot use their long lay-off or their illnesses as excuses for the loss. Indeed, he noted that despite all these factors, they managed to stay close with BanKo-Perlas.
Gorayeb is thus confident that with a few adjustments, the High Flyers will be able to bounce back and take down the Perlas Spikers to force a do-or-die game for a spot in the finals.
“Ibalik lang natin ‘yung laro natin,” said the coach. “Siguro, makakalamang tayo sa kanila ng kaunti.”
PayMaya and BanKo-Perlas meet again on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
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