MANILA, Philippines – Grethcel Soltones came up big in crunch time to power the PayMaya High Flyers to a tough five-set victory over BanKo-Perlas, and force a deciding game in their best-of-3 semifinals series in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.
The High Flyers squandered a two-set advantage but proved to be the stronger team down the stretch, registering a 28-26, 25-16, 25-27, 25-27, 15-12 triumph over the Perlas Spikers on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Soltones, their local ace, came up with clutch hits down the stretch as the High Flyers scored four of the last five points of the game, breaking an 11-all deadlock.
“Sabi ko sa mga local, gawin na natin ang trabaho natin, huwag na nating i-asa sa dalawang import,” said PayMaya coach Roger Gorayeb. “Sabi ko kay Grethcel, kapag hindi ka nakapalo, basta maka-receive ka lang.”
“Masaya ako sa performance ng mga bata,” he added. “Happy ako, basta nanalo kami.”
Soltones finished with 22 points on 18 kills and three aces, while import Tess Rountree exploded for 34 points on 27 attacks, two blocks, and five service aces. Shelby Sullivan added 14 points.
The High Flyers rode the momentum of a come-from-behind win in the opening set to surge to a 2-0 lead, dominating the second frame. But the Perlas Spikers hung tough in the third and fourth set, where they served match points to force a deadlock.
BanKo-Perlas leaned on their imports, Jutarat Montripila and Lakia Bright, to knot the match at two sets a frame. PayMaya was at match point, 25-24, after Joy Dacoron was called for a net touch, before Montripila unleashed a sharp cross-court hit to force a deuce.
Montripila then fired an ace to shift set point to BanKo, before Bright came up with a huge hit of her own to send the match to a decider.
“Pinapatay kami ng dalawang outside hitter nila,” acknowledged Gorayeb, referring to the BanKo imports.
The High Flyers took an early 9-5 lead in the fifth set, before Bright shifted to the front row and towed the Perlas Spikers back in the game. The import sparked a 5-1 exchange, knotting the frame at 10-all, before hitting an attack long to give PayMaya an 11-10 lead.
But a service error by Cel Domingo tied the count again, only for Soltones to score three of PayMaya’s last four points to claim the win.
“Buti nalampasan namin kasi gusto naming mag-laro pa,” said Gorayeb. “Gusto naming mag-finals.”
Bright had 35 points on 33 kills, while Montripila finished with 23 points and 19 digs. PayMaya’s service game spelled the difference, as they tallied 12 aces in the game against six for the Perlas Spikers.
With the win, the second-seeded High Flyers forced a do-or-die game on Friday at the same San Juan venue.
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