Refusing to suffer an uncharacteristic sweep, the Petron Blaze Spikers displayed grit and composure to crawl back from two sets down to gut out a five-set victory over the Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy, 22-25, 16-25, 25-16, 25-17, 15-12, Tuesday evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
“Siyempre, sobrang proud ako sa team namin. Knowing them naman, kaya nila maglaro ng maayos. At wake-up call sa amin ni Lord na hindi pwedeng maging complacent talaga,” Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos said.
“Tsaka contender talaga yung kalaban namin. Alam namin na possible na mangyari yun. Experience-wise, okay din sila. Good thing na-handle natin yung pressure,” added Delos Santos.
Foton came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Behind the towering presence of siblings Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat, the Tornadoes controlled the tempo early to keep Petron at bay. Their dominance then kept on in the ensuing set which led to a 2-0 set advantage for Foton.
With a strong sense of urgency, the Blaze Spikers relied on their championship mettle to claw out of a 0-2 hole. They erected an 8-3 lead to open the third set, which ballooned to a 16-8 spread.
Playing with renewed vigor, Petron convincingly took the fourth set. The Blaze Spikers jumped to a 23-17 advantage, before Mika Reyes hammered the set-clinching deuce that forged a decider.
The Blaze Spikers then rode on their momentum to establish an 8-4 gap in the fifth stanza. Dindin Santiago-Manabat, however, went on a personal 3-0 spurt to bring Foton back, 7-8. After a series of momentum-swinging plays from both sides, a nip-and-tuck affair continued, as Petron led a point, 10-9.
From then on, Sisi Rondina hammered a through-the-block hit. In the next sequence, however, her attempt was rejected. As relentless as ever, Rondina kept on, as she found a crease at the back row over the outstretched arms of three blockers to give Petron breathing room, 12-10. Rhea Dimaculangan and Reyes then provided the next two points to put Petron at match point.
Though an error and a Mina Aganon hit threatened to extend the game to a two-to-win situation, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas delivered the final blow.
Petron feasted in the service area, netting 13 aces to Foton’s six. Ces Molina dropped 20 points, four of which coming from aces, to go along 14 excellent digs. Dimaculangan scored all of her four points via aces.
Remy Palma had 14 points spiked by two blocks. Rondina, who only played in three sets in the match, finished with 14 as well, 12 of which coming from attacks. Reyes chipped in 12 of her own spiked by three blocks.
Jaja Santiago led all scorers with 21 points built on 18 attacks and three blocks in a losing cause. Her sister Dindin managed, two of which came from the service area. Elaine Kasilag finished with 10 apiece, while Aganon had two blocks from her 10-point outing.
The Blaze Spikers will now turn their attentions to rival F2 Logistics Cargo Movers for the colossal clash on Thursday, June 27. Meanwhile, Foton try to get back on track as when they face the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters on Saturday, June 29. Both matches will be played at the same venue