While American reinforcements Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer were at the helm, proving to be as good as advertised, a young but solid six-footer in Riri Meneses, also made her presence felt in the opener of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Meneses served as the defensive anchor of Petron when it needed to stop Katarina Pilepic of Generika-Ayala.
The soft-spoken middle hitter, who came off the bench to replace Remy Palma, wowed the gallery when she won the joust over Acy Masangkay in the deciding set to score her first point and tie the set at seven.
Fans also went wild when Meneses denied a powerful attack from Pilepic, who was dubbed as the ‘Croatian Hammer’, to put Petron at 18-15. She also dropped a quick kill after April Ross Hingpit served up an ace to give the Blaze Spikers a comfortable 20-15 lead.
It was also Meneses who sent Petron at match point with another solid rejection of Pilepic.
Sure, she may have only scored five but it was delivered when it mattered the most.
Meneses’ performance came in as a shocker for others but not for Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos.
Delos Santos was the least surprised.
He knew it was coming for the much-improved Meneses.
Thus, he’s expecting her to shine bright like a diamond in this prestigious tourney.
“Honestly speaking, hindi ako nagulat kanina na ‘yun ang ginawa niya.”
“Sa training namin in the past few weeks, ang level ni Riri nakikita ko na nag-step up na siya, so para sa akin hindi ako magtataka na maging ganoon siya kasi alam namin ang quality (ng laro niya), sa practice pa lang and sa tuneup games at syempre ang dedication niya na matuto pa.”
“Madami pa ‘yan ilalabas and nafi-feel na niya ang improvement niya.”
The shy and unassuming Meneses, however, simply downplayed it.
She emphasized that she only did her part for the Blaze Spikers.
“Basta pag pinasok ako, ‘yung part ko dapat kong gawin dahil para sa team din naman namin ang gagawin ng bawat isa.”
“Pare-parehas lang kaming malaki, game lang naman ‘to and nakapaglaro na rin ako last time dito so alam ko na kung paano maglaro ang mga imports. Angat sila sa amin pero siyempre hindi naman kami magpapatalo.”