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Dahlke, Power Hitters get twice-to-beat incentive

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Kendra Dahlke displayed her might as she powered PLDT Home Fibr to an emphatic 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 win over United VC in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Ranged against former Arizona teammate Kalei Mau, Dahlke towed the Power Hitters to victory to formally secure the third twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals of this prestigious women’s club tournament that has ESPN5 and 5Plus as broadcast partners.

Dahlke unloaded 21 kills, two blocks and an ace for 24 points while Grace Lazard shone with 15 markers and Aiko Urdas added 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.

With the win, the Power Hitters are now at third with an 8-6 win-loss card, but their spot has yet to be cemented as fourth-placer Cignal can still snatch it should it prevail over F2 Logistics in three or four sets on Thursday next week.

United VC, for its part, fell to 6-6 and has to win its last two matches to claim the last quarterfinal bonus.

“We needed this win because we want to avoid falling into fifth place. That could be a tough position for us,” said PLDT head coach Roger Gorayeb.

“I told them that as much as possible, we have to win in three sets to improve our ranking. I’m glad that the players responded well.”
Although PLDT started slow, 12-17, in the first set, it managed to fight its way back with a 6-1 attack capped by a three consecutive hits from Dahlke to inch closer, 17-18. Then, Lazard delivered a booming kill to seal the win in the first frame 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 it to within two, 21-23.

Lazard stopped the bleeding as she delivered the match point, But Bedart-Ghani saved a point before Urdas unleashed the game-winning spike.

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