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Petron claims first victory against Azad University

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Needing a win before clashing with international giants, the Petron Blaze Spikers overwhelmed Iran’s Azad University for, claiming its first vitory in the AVC Women’s Club Championships 25-8, 25-16, 25-23 at the Ha Nam Gym in Vietnam, Monday evening.

In stark contrast to their paltry opening day performance, the Blaze Spikers played better all-around volleyball in their second match of the tournament. The Pinays even buried their foes in a lopsided first set through immaculate serving and intuitive blocking. The second set saw more resistance from the Iranian side but the attacking of Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Iran’s own errors made way for an easy Petron win and a 2-0 match lead.

A tight affair greeted the defending Philippines Superliga Grad Prix champs in the third frame with the Azad answering every Petron attempt to get ahead. The Iranians eventually built a 23-20 lead off the Pinays’ errors prompting Petron head coach, George Pascua to call a timeout. His ladies responded accordingly with Aby Maraño and Rupia Inck getting the last two points of 4-0 run that propelled Petron to match point, 24-23. The Blaze Spikers took the match in the next point off a highly-contested lifting call.

According to PSL media bureau chief Julius Manicad, the Iranians did not sign the game results and are protesting the final point. Whether their plea holds up will be announced later today.

PSL MVP, Manabat led all scorers with 15 points. Brazilian import, Inck Rupia, who was shifted from opposite spiker to open hitter for the match, paced Petron with 11 markers. Fellow Brazilian import, setter Erica Adachi gathered 53 excellent sets in spearheading her team’s offense.

“The adjustment paid off,” said Petron coach George Pascua, who shifted Furtado from opposite to open spiker position to further maximize her prowess on the firing end. “I’m glad everybody showed up prepared and ready to win.”

But the celebration will be temporary as the Blaze Spikers march back to the war zone on Tuesday to face Hisamitsu Seikayu Springs of Japan — an elite squad which won the Asian crown for the past two years.

Action starts at 9 pm (Manila time) with the Japanese heavily favored after coming off an easy 25-10, 25-15, 25-12 win over 4.25 Sports Club of North Korea, a fitting rebound to their five-set loss to Zhejiang of China in Pool B the other day.

Pascua said Japan is expected to play like a runaway train and the most they can do is to lessen its impact while learning something which they could use in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix that starts on Oct. 10 at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.

“Japan is such a strong team,” he said. “But the girls have high morale. I hope they won’t get intimidated and just be challenged against Japan. I know good things will happen if we play the way we used to be.”

The Scores:

Petron (3) – Manabat 15, Inck 11, Molina 8, Daquis 7, Maraño 5, Adachi 5, Morada 3, Cayetano 1, Masangkay 0, Zapanta 0, Reyes (L)

Azad University (0) – Borhani 14, Safari 8, Giveh 2, Ebrahimi 2, Givari 1, Shirtari 1, Baghepour 1, Kihani (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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