By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
PLDT outlasted Petro Gazz in a five-set thriller, 21-25, 31-29, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13, and forged a four-way tie of the lead in the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City Thursday night, Feb. 23.
Mich Morente and Mary Anne Mendrez conspired for 36 kills for 21 points apiece for the High Speed Hitters, whose victory improved them to 3-1 that created a four-way logjam at the helm with Creamline, Chery Tiggo and F2 Logistics.
PLDT had to dig deeper to destroy Petro Gazz’s rock-solid net defense by firing 74 attacks, half of those were from Morente and Mendrez.
Still, the Angels finished with 14 blocks including six from MJ Phillips in a match that lasted for two hours and 42 minutes.
PLDT also turned to its strong service by posting eight aces, while converting Petro Gazz’s unforced errors into 33 points.
Jovielyn Prado also shone for the High Speed Hitters with 15 points, while Dell Palomata contributed 12 points.
Petro Gazz slipped to a 2-2 mark to tie with Choco Mucho in the middle standings despite Phillips’ 24-point production.
Aiza Pontillas and Grethcel Soltones also finished with 19 and 17 points in a losing effort.
Earlier, the Flying Titans drew strength from the seldom-used Regine Arocha as it escaped a resilient Army Black Mamba, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-27, 15-11.
Arocha, a two-time Finals MVP in the NCAA during her collegiate days for Arellano, fired 13 points built on 12 attacks including early in the pivotal fifth set that gave the Flying Titans the needed boost after failing to close out the match early in the fourth frame.
Her fiery fifth-set assault put Choco Mucho to a comfortable 12-5 lead before Army launched a counterattack anchored on Jeanette Villareal that trimmed the advantage to 12-11.