PVL: High Flyers stop Spikers, force Game 3

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PayMaya’s Grethcel Soltones challenges BanKo-Perlas’ Rysabelle Devanadera and Fenela Emnas during their PVL Reinforced Conference semis duel at the Filoil Flying V Center.
PayMaya’s Grethcel Soltones challenges BanKo-Perlas’ Rysabelle Devanadera and Fenela Emnas during their PVL Reinforced Conference semis duel at the Filoil Flying V Center.

PayMaya squandered a two-set lead but pulled through in a tense-filled decider, hacking out a 28-26, 25-16, 25-27, 25-27, 15-12 decision to force a sudden death for the other finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference crown at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.

Grethcel Soltones crashed into the battle of power-hitting imports and proved her mettle, blasting away 18 attack points, including the solid match-clinching spike that scraped past BanKo-Perlas’ reinforcement Kia Bright’s arms and into the stands.

The former many-time NCAA MVP actually delivered three of the High Flyers’ last four points, including a cross-court attack that broke an 11-all count and another hit before a Bright miscue gave PayMaya a three-point cushion.

Bright actually kept the Spikers in the game with a drop shot but Soltones, who also rattled off three straight points early in the fifth, finished them off with that high-flying attack.

“My mindset in this kind of matches is ‘I have to get this point.’ I really wanted to win so I stayed focused,” said Soltones, who also had three aces and finished with 22 points.

Import Tess Rountree turned in a 34-hit game while Soltones capped her superb all-around game with 29 excellent receptions and 15 digs and Shelby Sullivan added 14 markers and locals Celine Domingo and Jerrili Malabanan chipped in eight points apiece.

Bright finished one point better than Rountree while the power-hitting Jutarat Montripila came away with 23 hits for the Perlas Spikers.

The victory set up a do-or-die match for a finals seat on Friday with the High Flyers likewise halting the Perlas Spikers’ amazing eight-game streak capped by their 25-19, 26-28, 25-23, 25-23 victory in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series in the season-opening conference organized by Sports Vision.

But PayMaya took the first two sets of Game Two, including an imposing romp in the second only to reel back in a pair of back-and-forth extended sets.

They actually blew two match points in the fourth and failed to counter Montripila and Bright’s hits, the last over two defenders and after a long, thrilling rally.

Still the High Flyers regrouped and controlled the fifth, leading at 7-4 and 9-5 before the Spikers strung up three straight hits and threatened at 8-9. A Rountree off-the-block hit made it a two-point lead for PayMaya but Bright came through with back-to-back hits and the two teams traded errors to remain tied at 11 before Soltones hammered in a cross-court hit and another power spike.

“I told the locals to do their job and not just rely on the imports,” said PayMaya coach Roger Gorayeb.”I told Grethcel and the others that if she can’t attack and receive, the others will take care of offense.”

Earlier, Vice Co also forced a playoff for a finals seat in the men’s division of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics as the Blockbusters foiled the Air Force Jet Spikers, 25-22, 16-25, 25-23, 29-31, 17-15 earlier.

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