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Petron blazes to fifth straight win, stops Foton’s streak

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In a collision of the league’s two hottest teams, the Petron Blaze Spikers edged the tough Foton Tornadoes in straight sets, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16, to keep their winning run alive at five and stop Foton’s five-game rampage in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the De La Salle University – Lipa Sentrum in Laguna.

Petron’s Brazilian import Rupia Inck set them on the right track, scoring their first three points and keying a 5-0 run that gave them an 8-5 lead. Foton’s Katy Messing sparked a counter-run with consecutive cross-court kills that momentarily handed Foton the lead, 10-9. Petron, however, quickly replied with eight consecutive points off powerful kills and Foton’s errors for a 17-10 advantage. Petron eventually threatened to take the set, leading 22-16, but an avalanche of mistimed connections between setter Erica Adachi and ace hitter Dindin Santiago-Manabat stalled Petron’s run and allowed Foton to knot the set at 22. Coming off the bench, Abigail Maraño arrested the Petron drought and scored off her signature running attack, sparking a heated exchange of attacks that led to a deuce. Foton middle blocker Jaja Santiago blasted a quick attack that gave Foton set point, 25-24, but three consecutive attack errors from Foton’s Santiago, Kayla Williams, and Lindsay Stalzer followed, allowing Petron to waltz to an early 1-0 set lead.

Santiago valiantly kept up the offensive pressure in the second set to mitigate her team’s errors. Santiago’s attacking was enough to maintain a tie throughout the frame, but Foton wound up gifting Petron four straight points midway through the set for their 18-15 lead. The Tornadoes, through attacks from Stalzer and Santiago, trimmed the deficit down to one, 22-21. Manabat, Maraño, and Rachel Daquis dragged Petron out of the bind, scoring Petron’s last three points amidst a slew of timeouts and heavily contested refereeing, for a two sets to love advantage.

Displaying rejuvenated confidence, Foton jumped ahead in the third set, 9-4, off terrific offensive play from Messing and setter Ivy Perez. After an early timeout, Petron regained composure, quickly hijacking the lead 12-11, off attacks from Maraño and Molina. This season’s All-Filipino Conference MVP Rachel Daquis put the final touches on the match, scoring five points down the stretch and leading Petron to take 13 of the match’s last 18 markers and seal a convincing victory.

Fresh out of college in the U.S., Rupia Inck led Petron with a game-high 19 makers. Daquis added 13 markers off 11 attacks and two aces. San Beda standout Ces Molina pitched in nine points, while Aby Maraño provided six. Petron’s all-around effort took pressure off former PSL MVP Dindin Manabat, who dropped a season-low two points. Petron also received a huge lift from Foton’s massive 25 errors as they surrendered just 11.

“Nadaan lang namin sa adjustments. May mga player ako na nilagay sa ibang mga position at gumana naman. Marami talaga akong versatile na players sa team – nandoon talaga ang lakas namin,” said Petron head coach George Pascua.

The win relegates Petron to a first place tie with Philps Gold, who sport an identical 7-2 record. The two face off on Monday, November 16, at the San Juan Arena for solo first place to finish the tournament’s elimination phase.

Santiago topped all Tornadoes with 15 markers off 12 attacks, two blocks, and an ace. Lindsay Stalzer pitched in 14 points, while Katy Messing managed 12 points.

Foton ended their elimination round with a 6-4 card, enough for a semis berth. With fellow semis aspirant Cignal still to play on Monday, seedings are yet to be determined for the one-game elimination semifinals round.

The Scores

Petron (3) – Inck 19, Daquis 13, Molina 9, Maraño 6, Manabat 2, Morada 2, Adachi 6, Cayetano 0, Masangkay 0, Reyes (L)

Foton (0) – Santiago 15, Stalzer 14, Messing 12, Perez 4, Araneta 3, Tianco-Williams 3, Orendain 2, Ceballos 0, Delos Reyes 0, Macatuno 0, Acevedo (L), General (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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