Veteran opposite hitter Aiza Maizo-Pontillas provided the finishing touches in the Petron Tri Activ Spikers five-set upset of the RC Cola-Army Lady Troopers in the Philippine Superliga Invitationals at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Army quickly took advantage of a dated Petron effort in the first set to get the upper hand early. The second frame saw both squads trade share of the lead all the way into a long deuce. Petron got the first three chances at set point but could not make a defensive play to get momentum. Armg suddenly charged ahead, 27-26, after a Royse Tubino hit then a Jovelyn Gonzaga combination play following a free ball. But Petron quickly got back into the match with an Army error then a Maica Morada quick play. Setter Grace Masangkay puller off a clutch ace to give Petron their first set, tying the match.
Both teams then traded lopsided set wins. Through impeccable target serving and floor defense, Petron went up by as much as nine, 22-13, in the third set. Army had a last ditch counter-run in them, drawing an 8-0 run to trim Petron’s lead down to one, 21-22. From there, Army’s errors and hits from Morada and Mina Aganon pulled Petron to the win. But the Tri-Activ Spikers could not muster the same comeback when they spotted Army a 22-10 lead in the fourth frame, sending the match into a fifth set.
The lead shuffled between both teams early in the final set. RC Cola broke away from a deadlock to secure an 11-8 lead thanks to two Petron errors then a Gonzaga cross-court hit. From there, Pontillas pulled Petron home. The former UAAP MVP scored five of Petron’s last seven points including two-straight hits to end long rallies to give Petron a 14-12 lead. Gonzaga then sent a hit long, giving Army their first loss of the tournament.
“Ang tanging makakatalo sa atin kapag ayaw natin manalo. Ang importante sa atin ‘yung desire natin manalo,” said Petron head coach George Pascua.
Pontillas finished the match with 16 points on 15 attacks and a block. Sheila Pineda contributed 14 markers while CJ Rosario added 13.
Former NCAA MVP Royse Tubino recorded a game-high 20 points while middle hitter Joanne Bunag pitched in 11 markers. Army’s two main gunners, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachelle Ann Daquis managed just eight points apiece.
In the final day of the elimnation phase on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Petron (4-1) will face the Foton Tornadoes (1-4) while Army (4-1) will take on the Cignal HD Spikers (2-2).
Petron (3) – Pontillas 16, Pineda 14, Rosario 13, Aganon 9, Morada 8, Nunag 7, Masangkay 4, Molina 1, Legacion 0, Ugalde 0, Yongco 0, Reyes (L)
RC Cola (2) – Tubino 20, Bunag 11, Bautista 9, Daquis 8, Delos Reyes 8, Gonzaga 8, Carolino 5, Salak 2, Sabas 1, Gonzales 1, Agno (L), Nunag (L)