Petron delivered a preview of its championship form as it booked a quick victory over Sta. Lucia, 25-7, 26-24, 25-16, in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference Saturday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center in Malolos City.
Skipper Ces Molina sizzled offensively to underscore the Blaze Spikers’ dominance at the attack zone in this battle bankrolled by Rebisco, Gold’s Gym and Belo with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
With the win, which lasted for only 66 minutes, the Blaze Spikers are now safely in the semifinals and will face the survivor between topseed Foton and Cherrylume, who are still playing in the other quarterfinal pairing.
Also making it to the semis of this prestigious women’s club tourney that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Mueller, Asics and Grand Sport as technical sponsors are F2 Logistics and Cignal.
Semifinal action fires off next Thursday when the league rolls back to Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
One of the 13 PSL players in the national women’s volleyball team headed for two major international tournaments this August, Molina registered 10 kills and an ace for 11 points while veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas chipped in six markers for the Blaze Spikers, who are billed as the team to beat after launching a massive overhaul in the off-season.
Petron was so dominant that it crushed Sta. Lucia at the attack department, 39-25, while taking advantage of the 26 extra points off the Lady Realtors’ turnovers.
But the statistics tell only half of the story.
After scoring an easy 25-7 victory in the first set, the Blaze Spikers found themselves in trouble as the Lady Realtors, behind the hot smashes of Filipino-American spiker MJ Phillips, threatened to take the second set away with a 24-20 advantage.
Molina, however, delivered a booming kill from the open position followed Rhea Dimaculangan’s pair of aces and Maizo-Pontillas’ attack from the opposite to steal the set advantage, 25-24.
Then, Phillips committed a blunder at the attack zone to give Petron a 2-0 lead and the momentum entering the third set.
“Good thing we recovered in the second set even if they were the first to reach set point,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos.”
“We collapsed in the second set because of our reception. We were challenged and we pushed ourselves to claim the set victory. Good thing everybody stepped up. We did what we have to do, especially our service-receive.”
Phillips nailed 11 markers to serve as the lone bright spot for the Lady Realtors, who will face the loser between Foton and Cherrylume in the classification battle for 5th to 8th places on Tuesday in Imus City.