Cocolife flirted with disaster before running away with a 25-23, 25-15, 26-24 victory over dangerous Iriga City on Thursday in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at the Filoil Flying V Center.
Imports Taylor Milton and Tai Manu-Olevao delivered crucial hits as the Asset Managers weathered a torrid fightback by the Lady Oragons to seal the victory in this prestigious club league sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Rebisco, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
With the win, Cocolife formally barged into the top four behind unbeaten F2 Logistics, Petron (5-1) and Foton (4-1) as the tourney, that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical partners and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner, enters the crucial stretch of the single-round eliminations.
The Cargo Movers, however, still have a chance to widen their gap over the Blaze Spikers and the Tornadoes as they are still clashing with Generika-Ayala as of press time.
Milton delivered 19 kills to finish with 20 points while Manu-Olevao knocked down 16 kills, two blocks and an ace for 19 points for the Asset Managers, who survived the late-match resistance from the fiery Lady Oragons.
“You can’t just simply relax against Iriga City,” said Cocolife coach Kungfu Reyes, the mentor behind RC Cola-Army’s historic victory over the junior national team of Thailand in the Invitational Conference last year.
“Had they won that third set, they would definitely stretch the match to five sets. And that’s what we don’t want to happen. They may be new in this league, but you can’t take them for granted.”
True enough, the Lady Oragons were tough nuts to crack.
After easily winning the first two sets, the Asset Managers found themselves way ahead in the third, 18-11.
But behind the hot smashes of Japanese Saama Miyagawa and Serbian Tamara Kmezic and their steady reception, the Lady Oragons engineered a furious fightback to knot the match at 20, pushing the Asset Managers on the verge of a potential fourth set.
Iriga City finally took the lead, 24-23, but Milton delivered back-to-back hits to steal the match point, 25-24.
Then, Kath Villegas was assessed with an attack error, giving the victory to the Asset Managers.
“We struggled in the latter part of the third set,” admitted Delos Reyes, whose wards posted an overwhelming lead in the attacks department, 46-28. “Fortunately, we recovered. Our poise and composure pulled us through.”
Kmezic finished with 13 kills and two blocks for 16 points while Miyagawa chipped in 10 markers for the Lady Oragons, who absorbed their fourth straight setback after opening the conference with an impressive win over Sta. Lucia Realty.
(De La Salle Lipa Sentrum)
4 pm – Foton vs Sta. Lucia
6 pm – Victoria Sports-UST vs F2 Logistics