Champs in blazing start | Inquirer Sports

Champs in blazing start

Maizo-Pontillas fuels start of Petron’s title-retention drive;Smart leans on Soltones in PSL opening-day win
05:06 AM October 31, 2018

Smart’s Grethcel Soltones (right) hammers a point past the Sta. Lucia defense. —PSL PHOTO

Reigning champion Petron and Smart had a roaring start as they clobbered their respective foes in emphatic fashion in the opening salvo of the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre.

The Blaze Spikers crushed the young Cocolife squad, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18, while the Giga Hitters flirted with disaster before hammering a 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 victory over Sta. Lucia to set their title-retention bid in motion.

Aiza Maizo-Pontillas finished with 14 points while Ces Molina, who recovered from a stress fracture injury, contributed 10 markers and 14 digs for the Blaze Spikers.

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Meanwhile, Cocolife Filipino-American recruit Kalei Mau debuted with 13 points and 11 digs.

But all eyes were on the Giga Hitters.

After a long hiatus, Gretchel Soltones announced her arrival in style as she provided the spark for Smart, which is parading the core of the squad that saw action in the Premier Volleyball League.

Soltones, the former San Sebastian College star, delivered a game-high 17 points to practically dominate the spike department.

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“I’m very happy to be back after one year,” said Soltones, who was part of the national team that saw action in the AVC Asian Women’s Cup early this month. “We’re very happy to play in a high-level tournament.”

Smart broke loose from a 19-all contest in the third set as it scored five straight points to reach match point, 24-19.

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Sta. Lucia threatened within one, 24-23, but Soltones launched a powerful attack for the game-winner.

Smart coach Roger Gorayeb, who’s also back in the league after five years, played down their rousing start.

“I’m happy with the win, we’ve prepared for this and I want all of my players to gain confidence as early as today,” he said.

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Team captain Pam Lastimosa finished with eight points for Sta. Lucia, which is marching in this tourney with a couple of key players in sick bay, including Chin Basas and Filipino-American star MJ Philips.

TAGS: Petron, Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference, Smart

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