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Import Dahlke lifts PLDT to guaranteed quarterfinals bonus.

Kendra Dahlke powered PLDT Home Fibr to an emphatic 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 victory over United VC in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Ranged against former Arizona teammate Kalei Mau, Dahlke led the Power Hitters to in formally securing the third twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

Dahlke unloaded 21 kills, two blocks and an ace for 24 points, while Grace Lazard shone with 15 points and Aiko Urdas nine points for PLDT, which also drew an impressive performance from setter Jasmine Nabor, who had 24 excellent sets on top of 18 digs and three attacks.

The Power Hitters are now at third with an 8-6 win-loss card-but their spot has yet to be cemented with fourth-placer Cignal still in the thick of things should it beat F2 Logistics in three or four sets on Thursday next week.

United VC fell to 6-6 and has to win its last two matches to claim the last quarterfinals bonus.

'We needed this win because we want to avoid falling into fifth place. That could be a tough position for us,' PLDT Head Coach Roger Gorayeb said.

'I told the girls that as much as possible, we have to win in three sets to improve our ranking. I'm glad that the players responded well,' he added.

Although PLDT started slow to trail, 12-17, in the first set, the team managed to fight its way back with a 6-1 attack capped by three consecutive hits from Dahlke to inch closer, 17-18.

Then, Lazard delivered a booming kill to seal the first set and dictate the tempo the rest of the way.

'It was a lethargic first set for us. I'm happy that my wards showed their determination to win this important game. That was a losing set already, but they did everything to shift the momentum,' Gorayeb said.

Dahlke and Lazard engineered a torrid run in the third set to give the Power Hitters a 23-18 lead, but Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani and Amy Ahomiro quickly shaved their deficit to 21-23.

Bedart-Ghani delivered 21 points, while Mau had 18 points laced with 20 excellent receptions for United VC, which continued to play without import Tai Manu-Olevao.

Petron, meanwhile, notched its 13th straight win following a 25-21, 25-12, 25-20 conquest of Sta. Lucia also on Thursday.

Imports Stephanie Niemer and Katherine Bell led the way for the Blaze Spikers, who matched the 13-game winning streak they recorded in winning the All-Filipino titles in 2015 and 2017.

Niemer fired 17 kills, three blocks and three aces to finish with 23 points while Bell dropped 12 kills for a 13-point effort and Mika Reyes finished with seven for Petron, which has beat United VC on Saturday to complete its sweep of the preliminaries.

'We're happy that we were able to match what we accomplished last conference,' said Petron Head Coach Shaq de los Santos, who was an assistant coach when the Blaze Spikers notched a sweep of the All-Filipino in 2015.

'I'm very proud not because we stayed undefeated in 13 games, but because all the hardships in games and trainings are worth it.'

'But we have to continue what we're performing until we reach our goal. Sure, we won 13 straight games but I think there's still a lot of room for improvement.'

Casey Schoenlein and Molly Lohman carried the cudgels with 12 and eight points, respectively, for the Lady Realtors, who dropped to 2-10.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 29, 2019
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