Chery Tiggo bucked the absence of Dindin Manabat and a couple of set deficits as it subdued Akari, 23-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 15-6, yesterday to regain the solo lead in the Premier Volleyball Reinforced Conference elims at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Crossovers relied on their chemistry and bench depth to rally from 1-2 set down then parlayed the Chargers’ wobbly stints in the last two frames into a resounding triumph, their third straight as they broke off a tie with the idle Creamline Cool Smashers to wrest solo control in the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
The inaugural pro league champions last year took all but one of the first six points in the decider and never looked back, scoring heavily on drop balls and blocking as the Chargers struggled on their floor defense and coverage while getting foiled on their attacks a number of times.
Chery Tiggo also drew some luck in the fifth, scoring two aces on serves that both seemed flawed but hit the net, the ball dropping on unguarded spots which the Chargers had failed to keep in play.
“We really had a slow start, so we had to boost their morale by telling them to stay positive and do what they are supposed to do,” said Chery Tiggo coach Clarence Esteban in Filipino.
Import Jelena Cvijovic was far from being impressive in the first four sets but scored four of Chery Tiggo’s first six points in the fifth before the locals, led by skipper Mylene Paat, Cza Carandang, EJ Laure, Alina Bicar and Shay Adorador took over and finished off the Chargers in two hours and 11 minutes.
“Nag-exert talaga siya (Cvijovic) ng effort, gusto nyang makabawi,” added Esteban of his reinforcement, who struggled with six points against F2 Logistics before doubling her output against Cignal.
Manabat, the team leader, didn’t suit up because of an injury but the locals stepped up big to help stretch their win run to three in a solid start so unlike in their pair of eighth place finishes in the Open Conference and Invitationals following their breakthrough run in Ilocos Norte.
“It’s the team chemistry and we need to further work on this and figure out how to win,” said Paat, while stressing the need for them to improve on their communication and at the same time sharpen their skills.
Paat spearheaded another Chery Tiggo assault with 19 points while Carandang frolicked with her quick attacks and finished with 18 hits, Cvijovic wound up with 16 points and Laure backed them up with a solid 14-point production.
Adorador wound up with five points, including a swift attack that pierced through two Akari defenders and put Chery Tiggo at match point and a drop shot in the ensuing Crossovers’ offense that clinched it.
The loss dropped Akari to 1-2 for joint seventh with F2 Logistics with the young Chargers expected to come out of the heartbreaker a lot tougher and stronger as they head to their next game against the Petro Gazz Angels back in Sta. Rosa, Laguna tomorrow.
Three-time Olympian Prisilla Rivera uncorked a 30-hit game while Janine Marciano banged away 11 points and Krisch Macaslang added 11 markers but the Chargers failed to neutralize the Crossovers’ big fightback in the fourth set then cracked under pressure in the fifth.