Choco Mucho and Cignal set out to bolster their respective semifinal bids against teams trying to stave off virtual elimination as action in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference resumes at the Filoil EcoOil Center in San Juan City today (Thursday).
The Flying Titans dropped to 2-2 after yielding a four-setter to the first semifinalist Chery Tiggo Crossovers last week before the league took a break but are expected to bounce back strong when they play the struggling Akari Chargers at 5:30 p.m.
The league’s newcomers are reeling from three straight losses to slip to 1-4 and will need to raise their level of play to surprise the equally hard-pressed Flying Titans.
The HD Spikers likewise go all out for a win after losing their last two games following a four-set escape over the Chargers in the opening day but are facing an UAI-Army side due for a win after losing its first four games.
Gametime is at 2:30 p.m.
Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro is expected to bank on import Odina Aliyeva and Kat Tolentino for the firepower with support likely to come from Bea de Leon, Des Cheng, Maddie Madayag, Cherry Nunag and Deanna Wong as they go for the win that would net them hold of solo third heading to the final stretch of the single round robin elims of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
But the Chargers, who put up a gutsy stand before bowing to the powerhouse Creamline Cool Smashers in four last Oct. 27, remain hopeful of bouncing back strong behind reinforcement Prisilla Rivera and locals raring to prove their worth against their seasoned rivals, including Michelle Cobb, Lycha Ebon, Janine Marciano, Jhoana Maraguinot, Krich Macaslang and Princess Madrigal.
Cignal, meanwhile, has so much work to do in a bid to catch up with the leaders with coach Shaq delos Santos hoping the break has helped his wards get re-energized for the grueling elims stretch.
The HD Spikers, led by American Tai Bierra and locals Rachel Anne Daquis, Ces Molina, Angeli Araneta, Chay Troncoso, Roselyn Doria and Gel Cayuna, will play five matches in the last nine playdates, including their postponed game against Choco Mucho last weekend.
But focus will also be on the Lady Troopers, who nearly did the unthinkable the last time out when they stunned the unbeaten Crossovers to seize a 2-1 set lead, only to drop the last two that paved the way for the latter’s securing the first Final Four berth.
The loss put Army in a must-win situation with coach Kungfu Reyes expecting to draw the best from Canadian Laura Condotta and locals Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, Jeanette Villareal, Joanne Bunag, Ivy Perez and MJ Pabayo.
Games are aired on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play and Smart Gigaplay with hashtag #TheHeartofVolleyball.