SuperLiga: Petron stays unscathed while Army takes care of AirAsia

MANILA, Philippines – Some of the best young and veteran volleyball talents were on full display yesterday, June 8, in another day of the Philippine SuperLiga All-Filipino Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome. 

Petron dispatches RC Cola-AirForce in three sets

She didn’t put up another herculean performance, but nevertheless, Din-Din Santiago was downright impressive once again.

Despite playing with two hurting knees, the former National University standout contributed 23 points in the Petron Blaze Spikers’ three-set victory against the RC Cola-AirForce Raiders, 25-22, 25-13, 26-24, which helped keep Petron unblemished at 3-0.

Thanks to their recent victory, the Blaze Spikers now lead the rest of the league in the team standings. RC Cola, meanwhile, downgrades to 3-1 and is currently slotted in second place above AirAsia.

Petron looked poised to take an easy first set victory, but a number of errors worked the Raiders’ way. In the latter goings, the match was tied at 20-apiece. Santiago, whose prior error enabled the opponents to knot the contest, quickly unfurled two straight kills to give the Blaze Spikers a dose of breathing room. 

RC Cola-AirForce would not respond, and eventually lost the first period, 25-22.

The losing side was spearheaded by PSL mainstay Judy Caballejo and third overall draft pick Iari Yongco, who each put up eight markers.

On the other hand, the only remaining unbeaten squad in the SuperLiga also got 11 markers from Sandra de Los Santos, while receiving 13 excellent digs and seven excellent receptions from crowd-favorite Jen Reyes.

The second canto was a different story – but not a happy one for erstwhile-unbeaten RC Cola-AirForce. 

The Blaze Spikers scored eight of the second set’s first nine points, taking advantage of hapless miscues by the Raiders, which had won nine of its first 11 sets prior to today. A few minutes later, a Gretchen Ho score awarded her club a 2-0 lead, 25-13.

The game’s final trimester was more of a seesaw battle with the momentum constantly changing between both clubs. But at the end, it was the six-foot-four MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate that provided the difference.

Petron was up one, 24-23, but couldn’t close the deal thanks to Mina Aganon’s conversion. Sensing the possibility of a sweep slipping away, Santiago came up clutch, attaining two straight points via a block and midcourt kill. 

When the final buzzer sounded, Petron was on top, 26-24, having won the set and the game.

The Blaze Spikers swept the first half of their schedule, but are in for some tough challenges ahead with Generika-Army, Cignal, and AirAsia remaining on their schedule. 

RC Cola, on the other hand, will look to bounce back against the Flying Spikers on Wednesday, June 11, before battling the Lady Troopers the following Wednesday, June 18.

Tina Salak returns to bolster Generika-Army past AirAsia

After serving her Philippine Army duties, Lady Troopers stalwart Tina Salak recorded 42 excellent sets in her first game back to help the two-time defending champions of the Philippine SuperLiga defeat the newcomers of the league, AirAsia, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15.

Mika Esperanza, who served as the Flying Spikers’ setter on the other side of the floor, had 37 excellent sets.

The first quarter broke open for Generika when a quick spurt put the team ahead by five, 20-15. That threshold proved enough to keep the Ramil De Jesus-coached squad at bay, as Jovelyn Gonzaga, who led everyone in the game with 19 points, provided the finishing kill.

The Flying Spikers attained retribution by tying the contest in the second set behind the heroics of Cha Cruz, who spearheaded the girls in red-and-white and totaled 13 points. Army, though, didn’t surrender without a fight and bounced back after trailing by three, 24-21, to get within one. 

Nonetheless, an unfortunate miscue from the defending champs became their undoing, as AirAsia prevailed and tied the match at one-all. 

The third set saw another defining rally by the would-be winners. After getting within one, the Flying Spikers surrendered seven of the canto’s next 10 points, awarding the Lady Troopers a 2-1 edge.

However, it didn’t stop there. Generika-Army capitalized on its momentum and rode it for the remainder of the game. By the end of the fourth quarter, the match was over, with the score reading 25-15 in favor of the defending champs.

Veteran player Mary Jean Balse pitched in with 18 markers for the Lady Troopers, which took advantage of 19 AirAsia errors. Army, in comparison, had 10 less. 

Now at 2-2, Generika is tied with PLDT Home TVolution for fourth place. However, the latter owns the tiebreaker after beating the former on May 28. Army has RC Cola and Petron left on its schedule, while the Power Attackers still need to face the HD Spikers and Flying Spikers.

Cruz and company, meanwhile, fall to third place with a 2-1 record. Up next on their plate are the Raiders, Power Attackers, and Blaze Spikers. -