With expectations low due to their neophyte status, the Iriga City Lady Oragons pulled off a heist to start their 2017 Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga Grand Prix campaign, slipping past the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors 15-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-16, 15-13 at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Both squads’ level of play swung wildly from to set to set leading to a decider. The Lady Realtors held a daunting 11-5 lead and looked poised to tak the match. Their demise, however, came at the hands of Shy Cabriana and her deadly drop serve. Unable to pass Cabriana’s serve, the Lady Realtors surrendered a stream of aces and free balls that pushed Iriga to a 9-0 run. The Lady Realtors managed to come within one, 14-13, before Danika Gendrauli hit wide to close the match.
“Suwerte lang siguro,” said Iriga native and head coach Parley Tupas. “Tumibay rin lang talaga loob ng mga players ko. Sabi ko sa kanila kailangan matibay tayo sa loob ng court. Mabawasan lang ‘yung kaba, kumbaga.”
Iriga’s Serbian import Tamara Kmezic finished with 28 points, six of which came in the final frame. Grethcel Soltones added 15 markers.
Mar-Jana Phillips topped the Lady Reators with 26 markers but had crucial hitting errors down the stretch of the match.
The Oragons face a tough task in their second assignment in defending champs Foton (1-0) at the FilOil Flyinf V Centre next Tuesday. Sta. Lucia, on the other hand, take on title favorites Petron (1-0) on Thursday.
Iriga (3) – Kmezic 28, Soltones 15, Miyagawa 10, Villegas 8, Cabriana 5, Levina 4, Raterta 1, Yoshioka (L)
Sta. Lucia (2) – Phillips 26, Field 15, Lastimosa 7, Sante 5, Sabete 3, Salamagos 3, Cheng 1, Gendrauli 1, Rivera 1, Navarro 0, Moncks (L)