PacificTown Army pulled through in a tough four-set duel then dominated BanKo-Perlas in the decider to hack out a 25-22, 23-25, 27-29, 25-20, 15-7 decision and move to solo third in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
Ukrainian Olena Lymareva-Flink unloaded four hits at the onset of the fifth set as the Lady Troopers pounced on the Perlas Spikers’ erratic reception to race to an 8-1 lead and never looked back on their way to closing out their first round elims campaign with a 3-2 card.
The Perlas Spikers did fight back to close within 7-11 behind Nicole Tiamzon’s power hits but the former UP stalwart yielded an attack error and the Lady Troopers scored on another BanKo Perlas miscue and veteran Nene Bautista came away with two aces, including a lucky serve that hit the net and dropped to an unguarded spot that caught the Spikers by surprise.
Jenelle Jordan topscored for PacificTown with 23 hits, including 21 kills, while Lymareva-Flink backed her up with 19 points, 13 digs and 14 excellent receptions.
The match, the first to reach the distance in the first two weeks of the season-opening conference of the country’s premier league organized by Sports Vision, looked headed to a down-to-the-wire finish after four tightly fought sets, including the extended third frame.
But after Lymareva-Flink ended a long rally with a crosscourt hit to open the fifth set and MJ Balse-Pabayo made a service error for a 1-1 count, the Lady Troopers racked up four straight points, including a hit from Jordan, an ace from setter Alina Bicar and another kill from Lymareva-Flink.
BanKo-Perlas sued for time to re-group and break PacificTown’s momentum but the Spikers stumbled with another error and Lymareva-Flink banged in back-to-back hits to power the Lady Troopers to a huge 8-1 bulge.
While Lymareva-Flink and Jordan turned in power games expected of them, Bicar stepped up to produce 10 points while dishing off 26 excellent sets for PacificTown, which bounced back from a shutout loss to unbeaten PetroGazz Saturday to keep its win-loss-win-loss-win run in the first half of the double-round elims of the tournament sponsored by Mikasa, Asics and KFC.
“We finished on a high note at the end of the first round. We’re happy to be in the middle of the standings,” said PacificTown coach Kungfu Reyes, who also unleashed a new weapon in Jem Gutierrez midway in the fourth.
Gutierrez responded to the challenge and came off the bench to score four of the last ninth points of the Lady Troopers in the frame, including the set point kill in a rally that shattered a 16-all count to a 24-18 lead.
BanKo-Perlas, which threw away 27 points on errors, fell to fourth at 2-3.
American import Kia Bright finished with 20 points, including 18 attack points, with 19 digs and 20 receives for BanKo-Perlas, which also drew 17 points from Tiamzon and 10 markers each from Turkish reinforcement Yasemin Yildirim and Kathy Bersola.