Mika Reyes came up with a solid block before unleashing a booming kill down the stretch to tow Petron to an 18-25, 26-24, 14-25, 25-20, 15-12 win over Cignal in the Belo-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Reyes, former La Salle superstar, delivered when it mattered most to lead the Blaze Spikers to their second victory in this prestigious women’s club tournament bankrolled by Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
She finished with nine points, two of which coming in the crucial stretch of the deciding set. Frances Molina and Carmela Tunay led the assault with 15 and 10 markers respectively in what was billed as the battle between two of the strongest teams in the league.
Jovelyn Gonzaga nailed 17 kills, three blocks and three aces for 23 points while Honey Royse Tubino chipped in 19 kills for 21 points for Cignal, which absorbed its first setback after opening the tourney with a five-set win over Foton.
Earlier, Foton dug deep into its well of experience to smother Cocolife, 25-16, 25-17, 25-13, in the first game.
Veterans Grethcel Soltones and Dindin Manabat led the assault as they dictated the tempo early on to lead the Tornadoes to their first victory.
A fresh recruit from San Sebastian College, Soltones fired 10 of her 11 points off kills while Manabat chipped in nine markers for the Tornadoes, who pounced hard on the Asset Managers’ erratic attacks and sluggish floor defense.
The Tornadoes had 40 kills while the Asset Managers had only 19.
Foton also finished with 31 digs while Cocolife had only 24 despite the backline presence of Denden Lazaro, former star libero of Ateneo de Manila who tallied seven receptions.
Foton head coach Moro Branislav said they took advantage of the inexperience of Cocolife, a new team which was formed by former Ateneo and La Salle players with the core of reigning NCAA champion Arellano University serving as reinforcement.
“Cocolife is a new team. They have good players, but we are more experienced,” said Branislav, the Serbian guru who steered the Tornadoes to the Grand Prix title last year and a ticket to the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan in May.
Branislav said he is looking forward to their next match, which is against Generika-Ayala on Saturday, as it would dictate the tempo of this very short tournament that also has UCPB Gen as official insurance provider and Gold’s Gym as official fitness partner.
“Normally, I like to see how our next match which is Generika. For my opinion, there are four teams which can make it to the semifinals; Cignal, Petron, Generika and Foton. If we can win over them on Saturday, that will be very interesting.”
Staring at a 0-2 set deficit, the Asset Managers showed some traces of life in the third set as Michele Gumabao and Andrea Marzan delivered a pair of kills to put Cocolife ahead, 6-5.
But that was the last kick of the Asset Managers as the Tornadoes, behind the hot smashes of Soltones and Manabat, took control for a 17-19 advantage en route to the victory that lasted for only 73 minutes.
Former La Salle star Wensh Tiu nailed six points while Gumabao finished with five markers for the Asset Managers, who fell to 0-2 slate.
Mar 11 Saturday at the Malolos Sports & Convention Center
3pm Cignal HD vs Sta Lucia
5pm Foton vs Generika-Ayala
7pm Cocolife vs Petron
Tickets for Saturday’s game at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center (MSCC) are available via SM Tickets right now. You can also buy at the Sports Office of MSCC Friday Mar. 10 from 1:00 PM. Ticket prices Php 200 (Patron) and Php 100 (General Admission).