Petron waged a sizzling rally down the stretch to complete a straight-set conquest of bitter rival Foton, 25-12, 25-10, 25-23, and formally advance into the semifinals of the Belo-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference yesterday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas finally stepped up while Mina Aganon delivered at crunch time as the Blaze Spikers coasted to their fourth straight victory in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Senoh, Mikasa, Asics and Mueller with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
One of the 25 players chosen to be part of the national pool, Maizo-Pontillas finished with 10 attacks for game-high 11 points while Aganon finished with eight markers, including a booming kill in the crucial stretch of the third set that bailed Petron out of trouble.
Petron is now safely in the next round where it would be joined by two other teams together with a guest team from Japan. Semifinal action unwraps on March 30.
“We were expecting that the game will be close,” said Shaq Delos Santos, who called the shots for the Blaze Spikers when they suffered a heart-breaking setback to Foton in the finals of the PSL Grand Prix last year.
“Good thing the girls followed the game plan and we made it to the semifinals. We’re preparing for it. I hope everybody will step up.”
Delos Santos, however, said the next round would be an entirely different story.
“We still have to adjust. Almost all of our players are new. We have to work hard because all teams are still adjusting and preparing.”
Petron quickly took the first two sets before suffering some minor troubles in the third. But after being down, 22-23, Aganon delivered a crisp kill from the open position while Gretchel Soltones’ attack went wide, giving the Blaze Spikers the match point.
Soltones, a fresh recruit from San Sebastian College, tallied seven points while Yumi Yongco had five markers for the Tornadoes, who suffered their second setback in four matches.
(Mandaluyong Sports Complex)
5 pm – Sta. Lucia vs Generika-Ayala
7 pm – Cocolife vs Cignal