The Petron Blaze Spikers weathered early-game jitters to defeat the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in straight sets. This dominating victory puts the defending PSL All Filipino Conference champions to within one game of a fifth title in franchise history and keeps their undefeated run intact.
Blaze Spikers snatches away the first set
Petron had first ball reception problems early in the game as the Cargo Movers led by as much as nine points, 19-11, before Petron started a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to two, 19-17. May Luna gave the Cargo Movers more breathing room with a successful spike but Rhea Dimaculangan scored on a drop ball to bring the tally at 20-18. Luna’s off-target attack trimmed the lead to one but Dimaculangan gave a point away with a service error.
The Blaze Spikers tied the set at 21 with conversions from Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Cherry Ann Rondina and took the lead with a Mika Reyes block on Ara Galang. The PSL Invitation Conference 2018 MVP responded with a kill spike to force a deadlock at 22 but Maizo-Pontillas’ attack and Kim Kianna Dy’s error brought Petron to within set point. Galang chalked up another point to make it 24-23 but Rondina closed the set for the Blaze Spikers by detonating an explosive spike off a combination play with Remy Palma.
Petron blazes through the second and third sets
The Cargo Movers looked shell-shocked in the second set as Petron cruised through, 25-11. Rondina, Palma, and Bernadeth Pons combined for 10 points while F2’s nine blunders helped Petron’s cause. The squad of Coach Shaq delos Santos started the set with four straight points but F2 Logistics pulled to within 4-3 via a Galang drop ball. But the Blaze Spikers scored four unanswered points to mount an 8-3 lead by the first technical timeout and never looked back.
Petron maintained the same script in the third frame as they went back from a 7-4 deficit to win the set and the match, 25-17. The Blaze Spikes tied the count at seven but F2 Logistics had a one-point edge going into the first technical timeout due to a service error. The defending AFC champions stamped their dominance with a 9-3 run led by Palma and Rondina to turn the tide at 16-11 entering the second TTO.
Palma and Rondina were hailed as Players of the Game. Palma had six attacks and two aces while Rondina connected on 11 spikes and one kill block off the bench. Pons led all scorers with 12 points while Reyes and Maizo-Pontillas collected seven points apiece. Dimaculangan had two points, 20 excellent sets, and 14 digs. On the other hand, Galang led the Cargo Movers with nine markers while Fajardo, Majoy Baron, and Cha Cruz-Behag earned four scores each. Kim Kianna Dy and Michelle Morente both had three points while Luna and Aby Marano tallied two apiece.
Taking it easy is out of the question
Rondina and Delos Santos are not resting on their laurels coming into Game Two. When asked whether this victory will boost Petron’s confidence, the pride of Compostela, Cebu mentioned, “Hindi pa namin iniisip yan. Siyempre, bilog ang bola at kayang bumawi ng both teams. Trabaho pa rin kami at kung ano yun weaknesses namin, tatrabahuhin namin at kung ano yun strengths namin, palalakasin namin.”
Meanwhile, Delos Santos wants his players to focus on the task at hand of winning the next game. He said, “Tapos na yun Game One. Nagawa na namin yun gusto namin mangyari. Dapat maging inspired kami doon pero ibang usapan na ang Game Two. So kung nagtrabaho kami ng maayos, kailangan mas matindi sa Game Two.”