Petron made a dramatic return to the throne after overcoming a gritty F2 Logistics squad, 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 15-11, in Game 2 of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference best-of-three finals showdown last night at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Skipper Frances Molina delivered the crucial hits in the fifth set that powered the Blaze Spikers to the thrilling victory and win the crown of this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Rebisco, Gold’s Gym and Belo with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Molina had 10 points while Sisi Rondina spearheaded the attack with 16 markers for Petron, which survived the furious Cargo Movers in the deciding set through sheer hard work and determination on both ends.
But the brightest star was veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, who finished with 13 kills for 14 points after the cardiac battle that lasted for two hours and 27 minutes.
The former University of Santo Tomas star capped her season-long brilliance with a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in this tourney that also has Senoh, Mueller, Asics, Mikasa and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
It was such a sweet victory for the Blaze Spikers as they have finally reclaimed the crown that eluded them for a year.
The first time Petron won the crown was in the Grand Prix of 2014 with American sensation Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian playmaker Erika Adachi serving as reinforcements.
The Blaze Spikers again clinched the title in the All-Filipino the following year as stars Aby Maraño, Dindin Manabat and Rachel Anne Daquis assembled a powerful troika to register a historic 13-0 sweep of the tournament.
Since then it was all misfortune for Petron as Maraño left to reunite with her former La Salle teammates while Daquis returned to the Philippine Army. Manabat also bolted out to join sister Jaja Santiago at Foton.
The Blaze Spikers launched a massive overhaul and lured back Maizo-Pontillas as well as April Ross Hingpit, Bang Pineda and CJ Rosario to join holdovers Carmina Aganon and Molina.
But the title remained elusive.
The Blaze Spikers failed to advance to the finals of the Invitationals and All-Filipino last year before bowing to the Tornadoes in the finals of the Grand Prix, prompting them to wage another wave of recruitment spree that led to the acquisition of Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma and Marivic Meneses.
And with such a star-studded roster, Petron proved that hard work and sacrifice would lead to a fluid chemistry and eventually, back to the title.
“It’s been two years since the last time we tasted the crown,” said Molina, who is one of the two remaining players from the Petron squad that won the All-Filipino crown two years ago. “We wanted it very badly. We were hungry and determined to win.”
2017 Rebisco-PSL All Filipino Conference Individual Awardees
First Best Outside Spiker, Ennajie Laure (Foton)
Second Best Outside Spiker, Victonara Galang (F2 Logistics)
First Best Middle Blocker, Mary Joy Baron (F2 Logistics)
Second Best Middle Blocker, Reyes Mika (Petron)
Best Setter, Rhea Dimaculangan (Petron)
Best Opposite Spiker, Alyja Santiago (Foton)
Best Libero, Angelique Dionela (Cignal)
Most Valuable Player, Aiza Pontillas (Petron)
2017 Rebisco-PSL All Filipino Conference Final Ranking
Champion – Petron
Silver – F2 Logistics
Bronze – Cignal
4th – Foton
5th – Cocolife
6th – Sta Lucia
7th – Generika-Ayala
8th – Cherrylume