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MJ Phillips gets perfect birthday gift as Sta. Lucia sinks debuting Marinerang Pilipina

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Tiebreaker Times MJ Phillips gets perfect birthday gift as Sta. Lucia sinks debuting Marinerang Pilipina News PSL Volleyball  Villet Ponce-de Leon Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors Rebecca Rivera MJ Phillips Marinerang Pilipina Judith Abil Cesca Racraquin Babes Castillo Amanda Villanueva 2019 PSL Season 2019 PSL All Filipino Conference
Photo by Roman Prospero/PSL

By: Ohmer Bautista

Needing an opening-day win to jumpstart their campaign, the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors gave newcomers Marinerang Pilipina Lady Skippers a rude welcome in the 2019 PSL All Filipino Conference after a straight-set 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 triumph, Saturday evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

“We’ll take it although hindi pa siya gaanong perfect but I think the team needs this win. It’s definitely a good start,” Sta. Lucia head coach Babes Castillo said.

Down 20-22 in the opening salvo, the Lady Realtors capitalized on Seth Rodriguez’s error to muster a late 4-0 surge before Pam Lastimosa provided the set-clincher.

The Lady Realtors then sustained momentum in the ensuing frame to be a deuce away from a 2-0 set advantage, 23-20. Not even a back-to-back Lady Skipper spurt was able to stop Sta. Lucia, as MJ Phillips restored order with a hit before seeing another crease at the middle for the two-sets-to-none buffer.

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Phillips, who is celebrating her birthday, topped the charts with a game-high 22 points, all but one came from spikes, along 16 excellent digs.

“So special. When I woke up today, I had a good feeling that today, we’re gonna win. And on my birthday, that is just an icing on the cake,” the Fil-Am Phillips cheerily shared.

In the third set, Sta. Lucia found themselves down late in the set once again after Marinerang Pilipina’s Caitlin Viray went on a personal 3-0 run to break free from a 20-all deadlock.

But ripping a page out of their comeback in the opening set, the Lady Realtors willed another resurgence, but this time around, it was the game-clincher.

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Following another crucial hit from Phillips, a costly error from Viray and a Rachel Austero denial on Cesca Racraquin, the game went back to square one. The Lady Skippers’ poor reception then granted Phillips and Austero easy kills to seal the deal.

Amanda Villanueva and Lastimosa supplied 11 markers apiece, while Austero added 10, two of which came from aces, for Sta. Lucia. Villanueva also had 16 digs.

Despite having four players in double-figures, coach Castillo credited setter Rebecca Rivera, who got the Lady Realtors’ offense going as she tossed 23 excellent sets.

“Rebecca was the one who anchored our tram together. My teams needs an anchor and lumabas si Becca. That’s a good thing,” he added.

Racraquin led the Lady Skippers in scoring with 12. Judith Abil and Dimdim Pacres contributed 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

Sta. Lucia’s next assignment is the Foton Tornadoes, while Marinerang Pilipina seeks a breakthrough win at the expense of Generika-Ayala. Both games will be played on Tuesday, June 18 at the FilOil Arena.

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