For the second consecutive time, Petron suffered another heartbreak in the Philippine Superliga (PSL).
The Blaze Spikers emerged as bridesmaid to Cignal in the PSL Invitational Conference, a development that came at the heels of a bitter setback to Foton in the best-of-three finals of the PSL Grand Prix last year.
In the Grand Prix, the Blaze Spikers bowed to the Tornadoes as the high-powered roster bannered by Jaja Santiago, Dindin Manabat, EJ Laure and imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer peppered the squad that lived and died with prolific import Stephanie Niemer.
The setback sent the Blaze Spikers back to the drawing board, prompting the management to wage a recruiting coup that brought them Mika Reyes, Carmela Tunay and Rhea Dimaculangan. For good measure, Sisi Rondina and Marivic Meneses would be joining in the All-Filipino Conference while Bernadeth Pons and Remy Palma will join them once more.
With such a solid lineup, Petron easily swept the elimination round of the Invitational Conference, but tumbled in the final round as it surrendered to Cignal in four sets.
That proved to be deciding factor that forced the Blaze Spikers to lose the crown.
It was such a heart-crushing ending.
Team captain Frances Molina admitted that they were disappointed after a runner-up finish.
[quote]“Oo, sayang talaga.”
“Kami din, hindi namin talaga ineexpect na matatalo kami ng ganun.”[/quote]
Petron’s only victory came at the expense of depleted Foton, which lost Dindin Santiago to knee injury.
The Blaze Spikers also fell short to guest team Kobe Shinwa Women’s University of Japan, which was declared as co-champion together with the HD Spikers.
Did these Blaze Spikers peak too early?
Molina said it’s something they have to work on when they march into the All-Filipino Conference starting May 20.
[quote]“It’s another lesson for us to learn.”
“Kasi eliminations lang naman yun. Pagdating semifinals at finals talagang magiiba na ang mga galaw ng kalaban.”
“For sure, next conference mas eager na kaming manalo. Mas uhaw kaming manalo dahil second place lang kami ngayon at sisiguraduhin namin na may panapos kami every game.”[/quote]
It surely hurts. But they have to absorb it and come back stronger next conference.
[quote]“Mahirap at Masakit syempre. Pero ganoon talaga, may kailangan manalo at matalo. And this time, kami yung talo.”
“Okay lang sa amin yung ngayon pero ang dapat namin matutunan is kung papano bumawi.”[/quote]
The All-Filipino is still more than a month away, but the Blaze Spikers are already plotting a game plan to wage a perfect revenge.
The pain of losing twice in a row must be too much for Petron to bear.