In a colossal clash between the two undefeated teams in the 2019 PSL Invitational Cup, Sisi Rondina had to turn in her conference-best performance for Petron to remain unscathed, Saturday.
Rondina and the Blaze Spikers continued to ride the surge of their momentum, stopping the Cignal HD Spikers in their tracks, 25-11, 20-25, 25-22, 25-27, 16-14, at the Caloocan Sports Complex.
The 5-foot-6 product of UST detonated 33 points built on 29 attacks and four service aces, including the crucial blows in the final chapter of a cardiac affair.
Down by three late in the decisive fifth frame, 10-13, Rondina nailed the differential hits that dragged Petron back and strangled Cignal in a 13-all knot. A trade of botched service attempts then followed for another stalemate at 14. Errors further spelled the difference, as Rachel Daquis and Alohi Robins-Hardy coughed up consecutive miscues that sealed Cignal’s fate.
With the morale-boosting win, the Blaze Spikers remain perched atop the Pool C standing with an immaculate 5-0 card, while shoving Cignal down to second seed with a 5-1 slate. Moreover, Petron has finally gained a measure of revenge against the team that dethroned them in the All-Filipino Conference.
“Coming into this game, sabi nga namin ay kailangan namin tanggalin ‘yung sumpa na ‘yun,” Rondina bared. “Ang ginawa lang namin is ‘di kami tumigil hangga’t ‘yung bola nasa taas pa. Walang titigil and always remember na ‘pag may pumapapalo, babalik at babalik ‘yan. So stick to the game plan lang kami kanina, hindi kami bumitaw.”
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas flashed her vintage form with 21 points, raining down 18 attacks and three kill blocks. Meanwhile, Bernadeth Pons flaunted her well-rounded game, collecting eight points and 19 excellent digs.
Petron setter Angelica Legacion dished out 19 excellent sets for the Blaze Spikers, who welcomed the return of Rhea Dimaculangan.
While the Blaze Spikers had to muster a squeaker in the fifth stanza, they were actually on the doorstep of victory in the decisive fourth frame, holding on a commanding 24-17 advantage.
Though mired in deep waters, the HD Spikers remained calm and composed. They surged ahead through the steady service performance of Robins-Hardy to knock to within a solitary point at 23-24. Paat hammered then down a kill that forged a deuce.
Rondina finally stopped the bleeding for Petron with a piercing hit, but Paat responded with a blistering attack of her own for another stalemate, 25-all. The former tried to answer right back, but she misfired. Jovelyn Gonzaga then completed Cignal’s 10-1 comeback to bring the match to a rubber set.
Paat topped Cignal with 20 points, while Daquis and Gonzaga managed 16 and 10 markers, respectively. Gonzaga also tallied 21 excellent digs to post a double-double in a losing cause.
Meanwhile, Cignal setter Robins-Hardy fanned out 20 excellent sets on top of nine points that went down the drain, as the HD Spikers closed their preliminaries on a sour note.
The Blaze Spikers will seek to keep their record pristine and end their elimination round campaign on a high note against the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters on Sunday, October 13, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.