As the PSL Grand Prix season wore on, an air of intimidation began to form and swirl violently around Petron.
Despite starting slow, the Blaze Spikers had convincingly taken apart squads, including their current Finals foes the Foton Tornadoes, with their deep lineup and confident play.
The defending champions and Grand Slam aspirants took both of their elimination matches against Foton, and looked well on their way to another quick win to start the Finals, silencing the Tornadoes and their gallery of fans in the first set, 25-15, last Thursday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
However, Petron uncharacteristically ran out of gas and couldn’t afford to refuel.
As the Tornadoes revved up their aggressiveness and locked down their defense, Petron were deflated, surrendering insurmountable early leads in the following three sets. The once heavily-favored team found themselves with no room for error, having to win their next two matches to retain their seat atop the PSL.
On a team that has several former team captains and vocal leaders, Brazilian setter Erica Adachi stands out, always energized and never without anything to say. Throughout the season, Adachi used her South American flare to keep team in-line
As one would expect, Adachi was sorely unsatisfied with how Petron had played in Game One. The Sao Paolo-native was the first Blaze Spiker out of the court last Thursday, plodding her way to the locker room with a grim look.
“Look, I can stand here and give you a million excuses as to why we lost earlier but I just thought Foton played better than us – they played great and we failed to match them,” Adachi told Tiebreaker Times after the match. “I knew from the beginning that Foton was pretty good team – they beat Philips Gold twice and we never beat Philips Gold. I just didn’t think we gave it a hundred percent.”
Adachi, a member of the Petron team that won last season’s Grand Prix title, disclosed that what hurt her the most was that Petron seemingly forgot they were the defending champions and didn’t expend the effort expected of the best team in the league.
“Sometimes we did give a hundred percent and we played great but it wasn’t consistent. I feel like a lot of us were thinking that it’s ok, there’s gonna be a game on Monday,” she said. “But for me, I didn’t think like that – we need to win two matches and we need to take advantage of every point.”
“We need to believe we can be champions and not just think ‘Bawi next point, bawi next point’, we need to work hard for every point. You know? Not just expect that our opponent’s going to give it to us.”
It turns out, Adachi’s constant pushing of her teammates comes from an altruistic place. Personally, the former Brazilian youth team setter feels like she doesn’t need to prove anything anymore – she just wants validate how great her team really is.
“It (winning a title) would prove that Petron’s a great team and not just names. Of course, that would also be just great way of repaying all the support we get from everyone – the fans, management. But I think it would just validate how hard we work as team to be the best,” Adachi said sternly.
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