Someone must have responded, “Not today”.
While there are no casualties in the battle of the rivals, Petron’s hopes of a clean slate are gone. Worse, the Cargo Movers have the upper hand in the best-of-three Finals series and can clinch the championship on Thursday.
History repeats itself
It was the Cargo Movers who once again dealt Petron’s first loss. The Blaze Spikers were just one win away from an unblemished run in last year’s All Filipino Conference, only to be defeated in Game 2 of the championship series. This rivalry just keeps getting better with no definite end in sight.
Energy is high for F2
The Cargo Movers played with a level of enthusiasm that the Blaze Spikers were not able to match. That was evident in the opening set wherein F2 were executing their plays with aggressiveness and ferocity. They were also celebrating after every point to continually be pumped up for the match. On the other hand, Petron was sluggish for the most of the first frame that they committed seven unforced errors.
Blaze Spikers failed to sustain momentum
The defending champions went back to form in the second set by dominating early and finishing strong. They were not able to replicate that in the next two sets as the Cargo Movers brought the fight to them. They would trim F2’s lead in sets three and four but Coach Ramil de Jesus’ squad always had a response.
It remains to be seen how Petron will perform after their first loss. They can now focus on winning back-to-back PSL Grand Prix crowns after their 19-0 aspirations have been shattered.
It’s all about the cross
The Cargo Movers’ floor defenders did an excellent job taking away the cross-court options for Stephanie Niemer and Katherine Bell. They loaded up with three receivers on where the ball might land while leaving one player to guard the down-the-line option. In contrast, Lindsay Stalzer and MJ Perez enjoyed much success with their attacks especially against shorter blockers.
Dawn being dawn
She won’t be Ms. Everywhere for nothing. Macandili was all over the court to cover spots that her teammates couldn’t. Her dolphin-like dive towards the F2 bench kept the rally alive. There was even an instance when she dashed to an area where Bell to land a soft tip. Fortunately, the Petron import missed the hit.
Cabanos deserves some credit
The current F2 starting setter could have wilted when Petron was staging their comeback. Instead, she kept her composure and continued to distribute the balls to Stalzer, Perez, Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, and Ara Galang. If she keeps this up, Cabanos could steer the Cargo Movers to a championship in her first tournament with the squad.
The Blaze Spikers got their usual contributions from Remy Palma and Mika Reyes. However, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas was not a factor in this match. F2 was able to neutralize her attack and she eventually had a sub-par game. The veteran can’t wait to bounce back in Game Two being the fighter that she is.