Petron finally solved the puzzle that is RC Cola-Army as it escaped with a thrilling 19-25, 29-27, 25-22, 14-25, 15-12 victory in the third round of the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Veteran Aiza Pontillas led the balanced assault and came out firing down the stretch to tow the Tri-Activ Spikers to their fourth win in five games and into the final round of this prestigious tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
A former Most Valuable Player in the collegiate ranks, Pontillas unleashed 15 kills and a block to finish with 16 points while Bang Pineda and CJ Rosario chipped in 14 and 13 points respectively as the new recruits sizzled for Petron all throughout the marathon match that lasted for two hours and 32 seconds.
But more than anything else, it was Pontillas who delivered a pair of booming smashes in the crucial stretch of the deciding set that shattered the deadlock at 12 before Jovelyn Gonzaga’s spike went long that sealed the victory.
“Walang imposible kung gugustuhin,” said Petron coach George Pascua, whose wards became the first team to send three-time champion Lady Troopers crashing back to earth. “I told the team to take our loss to Cignal last Tuesday as a challenge to do better. They never get intimidated. They were all eager to bounce back and win.”
Pascua added that they prepared long and hard for RC Cola-Army and fortified their net defense to frustrate Rachel Anne Daquis, Honey Royse Tubino and Gonzaga, who erupted for 22 points in the Lady Troopers’ previous victory over Foton.
True enough, the Tri-Activ Spikers marched into the final set looking sharp and deadly.
After blowing hot and cold in the first four sets, Petron found itself in trouble in the decider as Tubino asserted her mastery, peppering the defense with a hot kills from the middle to put RC Cola-Army ahead, 11-7.
Carmina Aganon and Pontillas connected back-to-back kills before Tubino committed an attack error that tied the count at 12, paving the way for Pontillas’ late-game heroics.
“I told them that nobody could beat us but ourselves,” Pascua said. “Our hunger and desire to win should always be there. And tonight, they showed that they deserve the victory.”
Tubino nailed 17 kills and three blocks for a total of 20 points while Joanne Bunag had 11 markers for RC Cola-Army which became the first team to make it to the final round.
Click for a photo set by Roman Prospero
Saturday, March 19 (FilOil Flying V Center)
1 pm — Foton vs Petron (Live on AksyonTV, Delayed on Monday 4:15pm TV5)
3 pm — RC Cola-Army vs Cignal (Live on AksyonTV)