To the surprise of no one, the star-studded cast of the Petron Blaze Spikers had no problems securing its finals seat after breezing past the Philips Gold Lady Slammers, 25-14, 25-23, 25-18, and remaining undefeated in the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Cup, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Lady Slammers kept things interesting early in sets, but had no counter when Petron’s veterans got into their grooves. Petron’s most devastating weapon was Dindin Santiago-Manabat’s serving. The NU product’s four aces doesn’t clearly represent the havoc she spread on the Philips Gold side every time she stepped on the service area. Philips could not properly receive any of her serves leading to a truck-load of free balls for Petron, which their high-powered offense easily converted into kills. Philips Gold Head Coach, Francis Vicente, even had to call two timeouts in the first set just to remind his team on how to properly receive serves.
After an uninspired effort in the first set, Philips Gold gave more of a fight in the second frame. With Petron leading, 20-15 Philips Gold managed to win seven of the next nine points to position themselves at a 22-all tie. From there, Santiago-Manabat demanded the ball from her setter, and crushed two running attacks with a Michele Gumabao attack error sandwiched in between, bringing Petron to a decisive 2-0 set lead.
The Lady Slammers seemed to have the life sucked out of them in the third set, as they never sniffed the lead. Petron fell backwards into a 17-10 lead with Dindin at the service line, at which point they started to sub in their second stringers. Philips Gold mounted a late rally to narrow the gap, but their own errors combined with a pair of late Mina Aganon attacks sealed the match for Petron.
Petron’s win marked their eleventh in a row. Leading the way for the Blaze Spikers were their two key off-season acquisitions, Aby Maraño and Rachelle Anne Daquis, who dropped 13 and 12 points respectively. Petron Team Captain, Maica Morada, was named Best Player of the Game with an outstanding all-around effort of 11 points and 11 digs.
“‘Di naman ako masyadong kinabahan kahit nung nauunahan kami ng kalaban. Kinailangan ko lang paalalahanan ‘yung mga players ko na I-execute ung gameplan namin at ‘wag mag sari-sarili,” said Petron Head Coach George Pascua.
This trip to the All-Filipino Cup Finals marks Petron’s second straight after winning last season’s PSL Grand Prix. Petron now awaits the winner of the Shopinas.com-Foton tiff to see who they will face in the Best-of-Three Finals
Petron (3) – Maraño 13, Daquis 12, Morada 11, Molina 8, Manabat 8, Masangkay 2, Aganon 2, Del Mundo L, Reyes L
Philips Gold (0) – Pablo 10, Dadang 6, Fajardo 5, Gumabao 5, Tolenada 4, Dawis 3, Mea 1, Malaluan 1, Gohing L, Crisostomo L