MANILA, Philippines -- American import Tai Bierria has no complaints about coming off the bench for Cignal HD in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, especially with the HD Spikers on the brink of a breakthrough Finals appearance.
Bierria was once again not part of the starting six when they took on the Creamline Cool Smashers in the semifinals on Saturday, entering late in the opening period. She would go on to score 21 points, including several clutch hits, in the HD Spikers' 23-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-18 triumph.
"Me being a competitor, I wanna be on the floor 24/7," Bierria told reporters after they improved to 2-0 in the semifinals. "But it's been working."
Bierria first came off the bench in Cignal HD's four-set win over F2 Logistics in the preliminary round — a result that started a four-game winning streak for the HD Spikers. She only had six points against the Cargo Movers, but fired 18 against Choco Mucho in their final preliminary round game then scored 21 points against Chery Tiggo in their first assignment in the semifinals.
"You kinda got to put your pride aside, and come in and do your job whenever," the 25-year-old open spiker said. "And we've been winning, so I tell Coach Shaq -- I trust you, every single time he tells me I'm not gonna be in the game for the starting six."
"I feel like it's actually been a help if I look at it that way, you know what I mean? I get to rest for the first set mostly, I get to see the game in a different light other than just being in it the entire time," she added. "It's been beneficial."
Bierria delivered the final two hits in Cignal HD's 25-23 win in Set 2, and the final kill that gave them the win in an extended third set.
Afterward, she praised the composure displayed by the entire Cignal team, noting that they have several players who have plenty of experience in the game.
"This team, I feel like we're characterized by our ability to get better every single set, every single point, even throughout this season," said Bierria. "Like, we're not the same team that we were at the beginning of the season."
"Just the maturity is what kind of keeps us in it in those long sets, I think. We have a lot of veterans on the team, a lot of girls have been playing for a really long time. And so, in those tight sets, in those tight moments, they really know how to put the ball away and just keep their composure," she added.
Asked if Bierria will continue to come off the bench for them, Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos opted to keep his cards close to his chest.
"Abangan niyo na lang kung ano 'yung mangyayari, kung ano 'yung gagawin kong diskarte," he said.
"Knowing Tai, nagpe-perform talaga mabuti, and lagi ko naman sinasabi sa kanya, basahin niya lang 'yung kalaban, mag-ready lang paano tayo makaka-counter sa kanila, especially attack," he also said. "Very happy. Naging maganda 'yung performance niya. Nag-iba talaga simula noong pumasok din sa semifinals."