Chery Tiggo Crossovers defeated the Choco Mucho Flying Titans in straight sets thanks to Jaja Santiago’s heroics down the stretch in Game 2 of their 2021 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Semifinals on Monday at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
Santiago, reigning Player of the Week, scored the Crossovers’ final four points in a 25-18, 25-22, 26-24 victory over the Flying Titans, tying the best-of-three series at one game each.
Chery Tiggo has now swept Choco Mucho twice in the last three days, with a sweep Game 1 loss sandwiched between the final elimination round match and today’s semis Game 2.
The Crossovers blasted the Flying Titans from the service line and showed composure in the clutch in fending off Choco Mucho’s comeback attempts, in a reversal of Game 1.
The Crossovers were spearheaded by Santiago, who scored 13 points on eight attacks, three aces, and two kill blocks. Dindin Santiago-Manabat led the team with 19 points on 16 attacks and three aces, while Mylene Paat chipped in with ten points.
The Crossovers appeared to be in cruise control in the second set, taking a 13-5 lead after a comfortable win in Set 1. The Flying Titans, on the other hand, rallied, with Caitlyn Viray providing a spark off the bench. Ponggay Gaston’s ace gave Choco Mucho the lead, 16-15, and it was a back-and-forth battle from there.
The Flying Titans had a 21-20 lead after a service fault by Santiago, but they could not really stop Santiago-Manabat, who scored back-to-back hits before Jasmine Nabor served an ace for a 24-20 score. Choco Mucho stayed in the game thanks to kills from Gaston and Kat Tolentino, but Santiago-Manabat got some aid from the net when her hit rolled to an empty place, giving Chery Tiggo a two-set lead.
Santiago proved to be the difference in a nail-biting third set. Chery Tiggo took a 23-20 lead on her quick hit, but three straight errors — a service error by Paat and back-to-back attack errors by the Santiago twins — tied the score at 23.
Santiago made up for her previous error with a quick hit that put Chery Tiggo on match point, 24-23, before Tolentino’s kill forced the game’s final deadlock. Santiago, on the other hand, was unstoppable, firing another stroke from the middle before serving an ace, ensuring Chery Tiggo would play at least one more day.
With 14 points, Tolentino was Choco Mucho’s lone double-digit scorer, while Maddie Madayag chipped in 7 markers with 4 blocks, and 3 spikes.
Chery Tiggo’s aces cost the Flying Titans 10 points, and the Crossovers outattacked the Flying Titans 44-30.
The pivotal Game 3 will take place on Tuesday, again in Ilocos Norte, guaranteeing an extra day in the conference’s compressed daily schedule.