The Akari Chargers finally got a taste of victory after a nail-biting five-set combat with the gritty Quezon City Gerflor Defenders, 25-20, 22-25, 27-25, 25-27, 15-12, in the 2023 PVL Invitational Conference at the PhilSports Arena, July 18.
Super rookie Faith Nisperos duplicated her output from last game with 18 points and six excellent receptions. Moreover, Dindin Santiago-Manabat scored 17 composed of 14 spikes and three blocks, while Eli Soyud added nine markers from the bench.
On the flip side, Alyssa Bertolano spearheaded the attack for Gerflor with 14 points including two service aces. Ranya Musa made a living at the middle with 13 markers, while Janine Navarro and Rap Aguilar tallied nine apiece.
With Akari looking to close the game out with a 19-12 advantage in the fourth canto, Defenders team captain Justine Dorog sparked a Gerflor run and helped turn the tables around to force a decider.
As the fifth set turned into a nip-and-tuck affair, the Chargers averted another collapse at the expense of an error-plagued Defenders squad and pulled away with the victory off a Dorog mis-hit.
Miscues haunted both teams throughout the game as Akari committed 39 against Gerflor’s 35.
Good thing though for the Chargers, chief playmaker and birthday girl Jaja Maraguinot found ways to stabilize the team, distributing the ball well while clinching points of her own. The starting setter notched 14 excellent sets and three points.
In addition, Janine Marciano stayed ready despite not seeing action in the last game. The veteran outside hitter registered eight points, the same output as Ezra Madrigal’s. Libero Bang Pineda also had a steady game on defense with 16 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions.
Even with the win, the Chargers failed to enter the semifinals after posting a 1-3 win-loss record. Now, heading into the classification round, Maraguinot mentioned that the team must work on their endgame composure and chemistry. Skills are not a problem for Akari, but if they want to move forward, they need to improve on those areas of the game according to the former Lady Eagle.
“Mas madami pa kaming magagawa and madami pa ding kailangan i-improve in terms of being one as a team talaga lalo na yung sa endgame namin at nung fourth set din na sobrang layo na ng lamang pero in the end nawawala kami, so kailangan talaga naming ayusin yun kasi skills-wise okay naman kami eh, pero yung galaw namin as a team medyo rusty pa,” the Ateneo product said.