Two years since being removed from the throne, Petron needed all the energy it could muster in the deciding fifth set of the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference finals to be crowned champs again.
The Blaze Spikers outlasted 2016 titlist F2 Logistics 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 15-11 to complete a sweep of their best-of-three title series at FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan Thursday night.
National team member Ces Molina played a solid game especially in the deciding frame, scoring five of Petron’s last eight points to finally put an end to the club’s dry spell since winning the 2015 All-Filipino title.
Cherry Rondina, who transferred from Foton, led Petron with 16 points but sat out the fifth set with head coach Shaq Delos Santos giving Molina the crucial minutes.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Aiza Maizo-Pontillas delivered 14 points while Bernadeth Pons and Molina respectively finished with 12 and 10 points for the Blaze Spikers, who took the series opener, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19, last Tuesday.
The Cargo Movers tied the deciding frame at 7 after an attack error by Petron’s Remy Palma. But a crucial service error by F2 Logistics’ Fritz Gallenero followed by Molina’s back-to-back hits put Petron back on top, 10-7.
The Cargo Movers tied the set at 11 for the last time off a through the block hit by Ara Galang before Molina scored on the next play.
Galang smashed her spike long before the former San Beda College star Molina pushed the Blaze Spikers at championship point, 14-11.
A net touch error by the Cargo Movers ignited the celebration for Petron.
Down, 1-2, the Blaze Spikers forced a deciding frame with Maizo-Pontillas pounding a thunderous kill to stop F2 Logistics’ comeback attempt after bridging the gap, 23-24.
The Cargo Movers showed grit in the second set with a dramatic comeback that saw F2 Logistics save four match points in a 6-0 rally that stunned the Blaze Spikers.
With Mika Reyes, who transferred to Petron from F2 Logistics during the offseason, putting a clog at the net, the Blaze Spikers broke a tight see-saw battle in the second frame to move at set point, 24-20, off a hit by Rondina. Palma served long and it was enough opening for the Cargo Movers to move in to steal the frame.
Galang sparked the closing run with back-to-back hits. Rondina was denied on the next play that forced a deuce before F2 Logistics sealed the frame with two straight points capped by Kim Fajardo’s service ace.
Pumped up with their pulsating escape in the second set, the Cargo Movers went toe-to-toe with the Blaze Spikers in the third frame.
Petron again squandered a 24-23 lead with F2 Logistics punching in three unanswered points sealed by a service winner by Baron to put the Cargo Movers on top with a 2-1 match lead.
The Blaze Spikers took the opening set by rallying from a 22-24 deficit with four straight markers capped by Reyes’ block on Kim Dy.
Galang scored 20 points of 17 attacks and three aces for the Cargo Movers. Aby Marano had 14 markers, Majoy Baron got 13 with seven coming off kill blocks while Tin Tiamzon finished with 10 for F2 Logistics.
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