Chery Tiggo re-displayed its flair for the dramatics, battling back from 1-2 set down with a sweep of the last two although this time, its 27-25, 11-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-10 victory over F2 Logistics sent them to the semifinal round of the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference over the weekend.
It was the Crossovers’ seventh straight win for an 8-1 overall slate, netting them the third semis seat after the Creamline Cool Smashers (8-0) and the Choco Mucho Flying Titans, who also tote an 8-1 mark.
Chery Tiggo’s victory also virtually completed the semis cast although Cignal HD, which earlier shut down Nxled in three to hike its mark to 7-3, still has to hurdle its last elims opponent, the winless Gerflor side, on December 5 to formalize its entry.
Chery Tiggo coach Kungfu Reyes emphasized the team’s character that helped anchor their last two wins, saying: “This is the character we are building, the never-say-die attitude. Up to the last, we will fight. But it’s also about team effort.”
Eya Laure, silenced in the second and third sets following a big endgame assault that lifted the Crossovers in the opening frame, exploded again in the crucial fourth, scoring the team’s last five points against the Cargo Movers’ two that shattered the 22-all count and forced the decider at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Mylene Paat then stepped up early in the decider, scoring the team’s first two points with Laure also back in the spotlight with an off-speed hit that put the Crossovers ahead at 4-1. They held sway the rest of the way, fending off the Cargo Movers’ series of comebacks with Ces Robles taking over midway through with three straight off-the-block hits that kept Chery Tiggo ahead at 10-8.
But Laure proved far from being finished, redeeming herself from an attack error off a low Jasmine Nabor feed that kept the match tight at 10-9, as she unleashed back-to-back kills as Chery Tiggo sat on a 13-10 cushion in another nerve-wracking finish.
And like in their 17-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 16-14 escape over the Cignal HD Spikers last Tuesday, the Crossovers found themselves nailing the victory in the end, sealed by a Paat ace and a Pauline Gaston drop ball as the Cargo Movers’ defense crack when it mattered most.
But libero Jen Nierva upstaged the team’s revered hitters to claim the best player of the game honors as she anchored Chery Tiggo’s defense with 27 excellent digs and spiked her brilliant performance with 21 excellent receptions.
“The pressure was on us since F2 Logistics has nothing to lose. I just believe in my teammates,” Nierva said.
Paat finished with 21 points, including three blocks and three aces, while Laure delivered 17 attack points for a 19-point output and EJ Laure, Cza Carandang and Robles added nine, eight and seven points, respectively, for the Crossovers, who won the match despite losing in the spiking duel, 59-61, and blocking, 7-10, and yielding more unforced errors, 31-24, in the two-hour, 15-minute encounter.
Ara Galang topscored for F2 Logistics with 22 points while Ivy Lacsina added 19 markers and Majoy Baron scored 13 points. Aby Maraño and Myla Pablo each had seven points and Jolina dela Cruz finished with six points for the Cargo Movers, who fell to 5-5.