The Petron Blaze Spikers showed their championship form, handling a tough four-set challenge from the RC Cola-Air Force Raiders 25-23, 27-25, 25-15, 25-13 in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix second round at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Petron head coach George Pascua recycled a joke he used for his team last conference, saying that his team played-like a diesel-fueled engine as they needed time to get warmed and get into the groove of the match. The Raiders had jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first set, 9-2, before the Blaze Spikers took hold and blew back RC Cola with loaded serves and attacks. The Raiders again leaped to a sizable seven point lead, 13-6, in the second set which Petron slowly trimmed down. Air Force, however, averted a let down in the waning moments of the set, forcing a deuce and concocting clutch plays to take their only set of the match.
The following frames, however, swung towards Peteon’s favor as the defending PSL Grand Prix champs ruled every skill aspect of the match. The Blaze Spikers finished with 10 aces to RC’s one and also limited their errors to just 19 while RC coughed up 28.
Pascua revealed after the match that he does not want his team to start slow but he is still happy with the way his team finshed the match. “Siyempre kung pwede lang na maganda na agad ang ilaro namin, mas ok ‘yun. Pero malaki talaga ‘yung nawalang enerhiya sa amin dahil sa last game [Tuesday’s win against Cignal] kaya naiintindihan ko rin.”
Brazilian import Rupia Inck fired in her second consecutive 20-point performance, notching 21 points off 16 attacks, three blocks, and two aces. All-Filipino Cup MVP, Rachel Anne Daquis contributed 16 markers while Dindin Santiago-Manabat added 11 points.
Puerto Rico National team standout, Lynda Morales scored 20 points for Air Force while her fellow import Sara McClinton pitched in 15 points.
Petron improves their record to 5-2, tied for second with the Cignal HD Spikers and behind the 4-1 Philips Gold. RC Cola retains their fifth place standing with a 1-6 slate.
Petron (3) – Rupia 21, Daquis 16, Manabat 11, Maraño 10, Molina 7, Adachi 7, Cayetano 1, Masangkay 0, Aganon 0, Zapanta 0, Cabalsa 0, Del Mundo (L), Reyes (L)
RC Cola (1) – Morales 20, McClinton 15, Ortiz 9, Dimaculangan 5, Yongco 5, Cases 4, Caballejo 0, Semana 0, Abanto (L), Balmaceda (L)