MJ Phillips lifted Sta. Lucia Realty to an emphatic 25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16 victory past Cherrylume yesterday in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The power-hitting Filipino-American, Phillips, erupted for 23 attacks and had a pair of aces for a total of 25 points for the Lady Realtors, who nailed their first win after three starts in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Gold’s Gym, Belo and Rebisco with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
With the victory, the Realtors have to hurdle their next two assignments in Cocolife and F2 Logistics to gain a good position entering the crossover quarterfinals of this tourney that also has Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller, Asics and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
The survivors in the quarterfinals will figure in the semifinals with the victors advancing to the best-of-three title showdown starting July 11.
Pam Lastimosa delivered 13 hits while Janine Navarro and Danika Gendrauli chipped in nine markers apiece for Sta. Lucia, which showed red-hot offense and solid services with Phillips at the helm.
“We served really tough and passed really well,” said the 6-foot Phillips, who was born in Zambales but was raised in Carson, California before seeing action for Juniata College in the Division III of the US NCAA.
“We’re still a work in progress, but we really wanted to get this win.”
The Lady Realtors gained the upper hand on offense with 52 attacks compared to the Iron Lady Warriors’ 30. They also had more blocks (6-4) and more aces (12-11) to underscore their dominance on both ends despite giving their young and inexperienced foes their first set victory of the tourney in the second set.
But after that second set meltdown, where they fell to a maze error in the crucial stretch, the Lady Realtors sprung back to life in the third with Phillips punching holes at the defensive blanket of the Iron Lady Warriors, whose average age is just 19 years old.
Sta. Lucia was nursing a two-point lead, 18-16, before Cherrylume committed three service errors in the final stretch of the third set that set the tone for yet another heart-crushing setback.
Mary Ann Mendrez again served as a lonely soldier on offense with 16 kills for a team-high 18 points for the developing Cherrylume side, which suffered its fourth consecutive setback.