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Refueled Petron deals Foton Game Two haymaker, forces Game Three

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With their desire and composure questioned after their Game One loss, the Petron Blaze Spikers blasted the Foton Tornadoes in Game Two of the Philippine Super Liga Finals 25-13, 25-21, 23-25, 26-24 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Petron immediately took control of the match, building an 8-1 lead in the first set off thunderous attacks from Aby Maraño and Rupia Inck. The Blaze Spikers’ lead eventually ballooned unchecked, going up by as much as 11 and never looking back. Foton seemed to crack the Petron offense, taking a 6-3 lead at the onset of the second frame. But Petron quickly retaliated, nibbling at the deficit and rattling off a 5-0 run that brought them ahead 10-15. The disgruntled Tornadoes managed to bring Petron’s lead down to two, 20-22 after back-to-back hits from Lindsay Stalzer and Jaja Santiago. Beast Mode incarnate, Aby Maraño shut the door on the Foton comeback, unloading one of her signature running attacks which Rupia and Dindin Manabat followed up with blocks to cap the set.

Foton finally strung together a magnificent string of rallies, burying the Blaze Spikers in the third frame, 7-1. Petron, however, responded midway through the set, holding tight and lunging at the Tornadoes with a 4-0 run that knotted the set at 18. Petron, however, dampened their own fire, matching every attack point they scored with an error. Setter Erica Adachi served a ball long then Maraño attacked wide pushing Foton ahead 24-22. An exhausted Lindsay Stalzer powered an attack past three Petron blockers to net Foton’s only set win.

The third set’s late nip-and-tuck exchange carried into the fourth frame with neither team pulling away. Foton eventually broke away, 22-19, after kills from Stalzer and Orendain. After a timeout, Petron steadily worked the net for their next four points, with Rupia powering home two consecutive kills before a Stalzer miscue. Orendain then notched a clutch block on Rachel Daquis, then Katie Messing delivered a cross-court kill that handed Foton first crack at set point, 24-23. But Petron had one last run in them, going to Rupia and Manabat on back-to-back plays to grab match point. Messing then fired a shot long that sealed the match.

Brazilian import, Rupia Inck led the Blazers with a game-high 25 points. Former UAAP MVP, Aby Maraño dished out 16 markers off 12 attacks, three blocks, and an ace while former PSL MVP, Dindin Manabat added 16 points as well off 11 attacks, four blocks, and an ace. Brazilian setter Erica Adachi dominated the setting matchup, pouring in 32 excellent sets to Foton setter, Ivy Perez’s eight. Libero Jen Reyes also did marvelously in shoring up the backline, amassing 25 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions.

“Masaya ako kasi gumana lahat ng mga inensayo naming mga adjustment. Talagang tinarget namin si Lindsay Stalzer ng mga serve namin para mapagod saka mahirapan pumalo. Sobrang ganda rin nang energy ng team kanina. Nakita talaga ‘yung desire namin manalo,” said Petron head coach George Pascua, whose starters each contributed an ace, showing Petron’s focus on lethal serving.

Volleyball journeywoman, Lindsay Stalzer towed the Tornadoes with 23 markers while Jaja Santiago and Stalzer’s fellow American import Katie Messing each had 11 points.

The deciding match of the PSL Grand Prix Finals will take place on Saturday, December 5 at the Cuneta Astrodome. Petron will be shooting for a Grand Slam and a second consecutive Grand Prix title while Foton nears its first title in franchise history.

The Scores

Petron (3) – Rupia 25, Manabat 16, Maraño 16, Daquis 9, Molina 6, Aganon 4, Adachi 3, Cayetano 0, Masangkay 0, Reyes (L)

Foton (1) – Stalzer 23, Messing 11, Santiago 11, Orendain 4, Williams 3, Araneta 3, 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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