Losing a five-setter is tougher to swallow as compared to going down in straight sets. But for the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, their PSL All Filipino Conference 2018 Finals Game 3 loss to the Petron Blaze Spikers will be hard to digest even though they were vanquished in three sets. Why? Because all of those sets could have turned into their favor if not for the breaks of the game.
Could it be that the pressure barred them from winning another title in the 2018 PSL season? But a championship team like the Cargo Movers are used to moments like these which dates back to their De La Salle University Lady Spikers days. Therefore, it’s uncharacteristic for them to give away the match.
A first set that hung in the balance
The PSL Invitational Conference 2018 champions had a 19-18 edge in the first set courtesy of a Kim Fajardo drop ball. But the defending All Filipino Conference titlists sparked a 5-0 to gain a 23-19 lead. Two of those points came from two Remy Palma blocks from predictable plays. Majoy Baron did not sell the fake well in order to free up Cha Cruz-Behag for the spike. In the succeeding play, Fajardo’s low set for Baron was easily read by the former FEU Lady Tamaraw.
F2 Logistics gained new life with two straight points by Cha Cruz-Behag and Ara Galang though. The mini-run was halted though by a net touch infraction on Majoy Baron gave Petron set point. Palma committed a service error to let the Cargo Movers stay in this one but Mika Reyes ended the set at 25-22 with an attack from the middle. Galang had a tip of the ball which slowed its flight a bit but Michelle Morente was not able to retrieve it.
A championship that slipped away
The squad of Coach Ramil De Jesus had a 23-22 advantage in the second set due to Ria Duremdes’ error on a free ball. However, Dawn Macandili committed a similar mistake to even the count again. The Cargo Movers had another chance to take the opening frame when Galang’s soft touch brought them to set point. But Aby Marano’s service sails out to extend the second chapter.
While there are no guarantees that F2 will even the set tally if that serve goes in, it would have given them the opportunity to close it out with an ace or excellent defense on Petron’s attack. Instead, the Blaze Spikers capitalized with a service ace from Reyes and a successful spike by Aiza Maizo-Pontillas to cap the second set at 26-24.
The third set followed the same narrative as F2 Logistics trimmed the deficit to one, 23-22, by forcing Reyes to commit a spiking error. Petron scored to move within set point but PSL All Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player Rhea Dimaculangan pushed her serve wide. The set, the match, and the championship got away from the Cargo Movers’ grasp with a double contact error on Morente.
In total, the three-time Philippine Superliga champions lost the game by seven points. Had it not been for the four costly errors that they committed, the Cargo Movers could have halted Petron’s quest for back-to-back All Filipino Conference titles.
Champions always bounce back
Just like their previous championship losses, they will do away with the memories of this bitter defeat. It won’t be surprising if the franchise is already plotting their moves for the upcoming PSL Grand Prix. Aside from hiring a high-caliber import, the locals will use this setback as motivation to work harder, especially their mental toughness. This team knows how to win. They must keep that mentality in every rally they play especially when a good or bad play can change the complexion of the game.