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Rupia’s breakout game powers Petron to nail-biting win over Cignal

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Behind a tournament-best effort from their import, Rupia Inck Furtado, the Petron Blaze Spikers avenged their opening day loss, thwarting the previously undefeated Cignal HD Spikers in five sets, 25-16, 14-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13 in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

After both sides traded convincing set wins, action picked up in the fourth set with Petron up two sets to one and threatening to end the match. Ahead 12-10, Petron’s offense suddenly stymied with Cignal figuring out Dindin Santiago-Manabat’s running attack. Cignal rattled off eight straight points to take the lead 18-12. Cignal rode their momentum to extend the match, despite a late Petron rally.

The clinching set was agonizingly long with both teams trading points in multiple extended rallies. Petron’s Mayette Zapanta subbed into the match midway through the set, buoying her team through timely serves that gave them a short-lived 9-8 lead. Cignal then rode a wave of powerful hits from Ariel Usher to give her team a 13-10 lead. After a timeout, an emotional Blaze Spikers side buried Cignal, scoring five consecutive points capped by an Usher attack error to clinch the win.

Inck scored five of her 26 points in the fifth set. Manabat did most of her damage in the earlier three sets, finishing with 18 points.

“Nakikita ko talaga na turning point namin ito. Ito siguro ‘yung magbibigay ng confidence sa amin para manalo pa lalo ngayong second round,” said Petron head coach, George Pascua. “Naipakita siguro ng team ngayon ‘yung winning experience namin. Mas ginusto talaga namin manalo noong fifth set na iyon,” Pascua added.

Cignal’s blistering import Ariel Usher, fired in 26 points but needed 82 attempts to get them. Middle blocker and import Amanda Anderson, pitched in 20 points but got little offensive help from the locals.

The win improves Petron’s record to 4-2 while Cignal remains on top of the heap with a 5-1 slate.

The Scores

Petron (3) – Rupia 26, Manabat 18, Molina 8, Daquis 7, Maraño 5, Cayetano 1, Zapanta 1, Aganon 0, Masangkay 0, Reyes (L)

Cignal (2) – Usher 26, Anderson 20, Gallenero 6, Laborte 4, Vivas 4, Hingpit 3, Tiu 2, Mandapat 0, Ancheta 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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