The Petron Blaze Spikers continue to blast through the competition as they gave the Foton Tornadoes a straight-sets beating 25-20, 25-13, 25-21 during their PSL Grand Prix 2019 second round match at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The squad of Coach Shaq Delos Santos never looked back the moment they created separation after the second technical timeout of the first set.
Stephanie Niemer scored 11 attacks, five service aces, and a block while Bell finished with 11 spike points and three blocks. The locals were also vital in this resounding win by the defending champions as the triumvirate of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Remy Palma, and Mika Reyes combined for 16 points. Last year’s PSL All Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player Rhea Dimaculangan continued her awesome playmaking with 27 excellent sets.
Delos Santos did not let the new players of Foton distract them as they kept the pressure on the Tornadoes. “For us, mas naka-focus kami sa ginagawa namin sa court and not necessarily sa gagawin ng kalaban namin. We know na magiging malaking tulong sa kanila si Dindin and kilala din ng mga imports namin si Collar. I think medyo nag-aadjust pa rin yung Foton, so medyo may nagkaadvantage kami doon.”
Despite the three-set triumph, game MVP Niemer is not satisfied with the team’s performance. “It’s always nice to win. But that was a rough game for us, I think. It wasn’t our best. So I think going into practice this week, we need to get a little bit more focused and work on the things that we kind of lacking today. We’re lucky to get out with the win and we’re happy with that,” she said in the post-game interview.
When asked what the squad can improve on, Niemer responded, “I think our communication can be a little bit better today. I thought we were a little bit scrappier than we normally are and we’re getting some balls up. But I think we need to take care of the easy balls. So I think that’s a good thing to focus on this week because once we take care of those easy balls, we are pretty powerful.”
Now on a seven-game losing skid, the Tornadoes were led by Courtney Felinski and new import Milagros Collar who had 12 points apiece while Carmina Aganon chipped in 10. Returning from her stint with the Toray Arrows in the Japanese V.League, Dindin Santiago-Manabat struggled with only three points.
The Petron Blaze Spikers (8-0) will look to extend their win streak as they travel to the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna on March 16 to tangle with a very dangerous Cignal HD Spikers. Meanwhile, the Foton Tornadoes (1-7) is hoping to end their slump as they face the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters on March 14 at Filoil.
Petron (3) – Niemer 17, Bell 12, Maizo-Pontillas 6, Reyes 5, Palma 5, Dimaculangan 2, Pons 1, Cortez 0, Lazaro (L), Gaiser (L)
Foton (0) – Felinski 12, Collar 12, Aganon 10, Santiago-Manabat 3, Ortiz 3, Sy 1, Sandoval 0, Perez 0, Casugod 0, Reyes (L), Yongco (L)