Dominican import Prisilla Rivera fired a record 44 points to carry Akari to a gripping 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 15-12, escape over Choco Mucho to end a three-game slide in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Thursday night at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
The three-time Olympian dropped seven markers in the tightly contested fifth set including the Chargers’ last four points to seal the marathon two-hour, 55-minute victory that kept their Final Four hopes alive.
Akari improved to a 2-4 win-loss record to remain in contention for the last three round robin semifinals seats.
Rivera had an impressive stat line on offense with 39 attacks, four aces, and a kill block. The 37-year-old reinforcement also flexed her muscle on the defensive end with 14 excellent receptions for Akari.
Rivera’s output reset the league-record set by American import Kia Bright of Banko Perlas when she posted 41 points in a five-set loss to PayMaya on 6 July 2017 in the do-or-die semifinals match.
“I’m very proud of her. It’s not because of what I think. I think Akari brought her to shine here and make our league stronger so congrats to her, congrats to her teammates that helped her,” Akari coach Jorge Souza de Brito.
“She’s amazing, she’s a three-time Olympian. Every training she comes to practice to prove herself,” he added.
Rivera gave Akari a 12-10 lead in the fifth set before Flying Titans setter Deanna Wong answered with a drop shot.
The power-hitting reinforcement hammered back-to-back hits capped by a sweet swipe that grazed the hands of Kat Tolentino for the match point. The Chargers won a block touch challenge for the point.
Choco Mucho’s Uzbek-Azerbaijani import Odina Aliyeva saved a match point only to see Rivera close her explosive outing with a down the line kill.
Janine Marciano backed Rivera with 18 points while Erika Raagas got 12 markers for Akari, which outgunned the Flying Titans, 75-55, on attacks.
Choco Mucho absorbed its second straight defeat to slide down to a 2-3 slate.
Aliyeva was the only Flying Titan in double figures with 26 points including 24 from attacks. She also had 13 digs and 24 excellent receptions.
Bea De Leon had nine markers while Tolentino posted eight for Choco Mucho, which failed to capitalize on Akari’s atrocious 35 errors.
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