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Petron nears bid for Grand Slam, drubs Cignal to enter Finals

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With another superb effort from everyone they fielded, the defending Philippine Superliga Grand Prix champs closed in on their bid for a repeat, shutting out the Cignal HD Spikers 25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-13 in their do-or-die semifinal match at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Petron’s Brazilian import Rupia Inck led the balanced Petron assault, dishing out 20 points off 18 attacks and two blocks. The All-Filipino Conference MVP Rachel Daquis followed with 14 markers, former league MVP Dindin Santiago-Manabat contributed 12 points, while the infamously APECted Abigail Maraño managed eight points. Setter Erica Adachi tossed 22 excellent sets.

Petron opened the match with excellent energy, matching Cignal’s exuberance and then some. The HD Spikers had trouble managing their errors, allowing Petron to handily take the first frame. Cignal then rebounded from their porous first set effort and established a comfortable five-point lead midway through the second set. Petron clawed their way back, going to their big hitters and eventually forcing a deuce, which they quickly won. Cignal again built a sizable early lead in the fourth set but held on to it for their only set win. Petron sealed the match with a an all-around, dominant effort in the fourth set.

“Ang goal talaga namin is makabalik ng Finals. Mas mahirap talag this season kasi sobrang unpredictable ng mga team, pero thankfully walang sumuko sa mga player ko. Every game unti-unti kaming luamalakas,” said Petron head coach George Pascua. Petron enters their straight straight Finals dating back to last season’s Grand Prix and this year’s All-Filipino Cup, both of which they won.

Petron will now face the Foton Tornadoes in the best-of-three Finals that starts on Thursday, November 26 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Cignal imports Amanda Anderson and Ariel Usher towed their team, putting up 20 and 18 points respectively. Locals Cherry Vivas and Fritz Gallanero each pitched in eight markers.

The HD Spikers will now face the Philips Gold Lady Slammers for third place on Saturday, November 21 at the Imus Sports Complex in Cavite.

The Scores

Petron (3) – Rupia 20, Daquis 14, Manabat 12, Maraño 8, Adachi 6, Molina 6, Aganon 4, Cayetano 0, Masangkay, Morada 0, Reyes (L)

Cignal (1) – Aderson 20, Usher 18, Gallenero 8, Vivas 8, Ancheta 6, Hingpit 3, Mandapat 3, Mullenberg 0, Tiu 0, Dionela (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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