MANILA, Philippines -- The Chery Tiggo Crossovers still believe that they can make a splash in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference, despite a poor start that saw them lose their first three games.
Chery Tiggo lost four key players to health and safety protocols to open their campaign -- Buding Duremdes, EJ Laure, Justine Dorog, and Alina Bicar. Their veteran spiker, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, has been hampered by an ankle sprain and has yet to play in the conference.
But the Crossovers got a much-needed boost of confidence after sweeping Petro Gazz for their first win on Thursday -- a game that saw them welcome Duremdes back into the fold. The libero's inclusion into the lineup gave Chery Tiggo a full complement of players for the first time in the tournament.
"Nagawa namin 'yung strategy na gusto naming gawin dahil nga nakumpleto kami dito sa game namin dito," said Chery Tiggo coach Clarence Esteban after their 25-22, 25-14, 25-21 triumph.
All four players who were in health protocols saw action on Thursday, and only Santiago-Manabat was not made available for the match.
Bicar was particularly influential in the win, starting as the setter and putting up five points, 13 excellent sets, and 11 digs. Laure had 12 points, Dorog came off the bench to contribute an ace, and Duremdes was credited with 20 digs.
"Hindi kami tumigil hanggang sa naging kumpleto kami. Ayun, ito po ang kinalabasan, nanalo din sa wakas," said Shaya Adorador, who led Chery Tiggo with 15 points.
"Naglaro lang kami ngayon kung ano 'yung tine-training namin," added Bicar, who earned Player of the Match honors for her effort.
Now with a 1-3 win-loss record, Chery Tiggo is still in the hunt for a place in the next phase of the conference, but is in a must-win situation in its final two matches against Army Black Mamba and Creamline.
But with the team close to full strength, the Crossovers are gaining confidence and there is belief within the squad that they can make a late run.
"Nagsisimula kami ngayon, na kumpleto na kami, and babawi kami sa mga susunod namin na games," said Bicar. "Hindi pa nagtatapos dito ang lahat. Lalaban pa din kami hanggang sa dulo."
Esteban, who got his first win as Chery Tiggo's coach, added: "Sinasabi nga namin sa kanila, wala namang imposible. So, lahat naman napag-aaralan, lahat naman tina-trabaho."
"Trabaho lang tayo ng sabay-sabay, gumawa tayo ng mabuti ng sabay-sabay, tiyak makukuha natin ang pagkapanalo natin," he added.