Gutsy Petron tossers pull plug on Cignal
AIZA Maizo-Pontillas made a triumphant return to her former club while newcomers Cherry Nunag and CJ Rosario rose to the challenge as Petron overcame stiff resistance from Cignal, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21, in the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference.
A member of Petron’s pioneering squad in the PSL, Pontillas marked her comeback with 18 points to help carry the Tri-Activ Spikers to their first victory at FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Petron struggled in the opening set, but hardly looked the team that lost three of its stars during the off-season as Nunag and Rosario put up a virtual wall at the net to stifle the HD Spikers’ attack.
The Tri Activ Spikers, who lost the services of Rachel Anne Daquis, Aby Maraño and Dindin Manabat, also drew solid games from Mina Aganon and Maica Morada who combined for 21 hits.
“We wanted to use the first set as an adjustment period,” said Petron coach George Pascua in Filipino. “That’s why in the second and third sets, we poured everything. We wanted to finish strong. Our attack started to click because of our defense.”
Cignal, whose team is made up of newly minted NCAA champion St. Benilde, lost its way in the second set when Morada and Aganon found their groove. The HD Spikers were still in it in the third set when Janine Navarro tied it a 20-all with a kill down the middle.
But a spate of errors doomed Cignal and the HD Spikers never recovered from there. Morada struck with an ace and Pontillas sealed the set with a well-placed kill.
“Aiza provides veteran leadership on the floor,” said Pascua of the former University of Santo Tomas standout. “She is a silent killer, our equalizer. She gets what she wants if she asserts herself.”
Petron took the third set after drilling home 14 points off kills, while Cignal shot itself on the foot with nine unforced errors.
The Tri Activ Spikers actually roared back from an 11-16 deficit in the fourth set with Maizo and Aganon coming through with crucial kills.
Navarro, who played a key role in the Lady Blazers’ run to the NCAA crown, finished with 16 points.