The Petron Blaze Spikers have done what four other teams failed to do: handed the defending champions Foton Tornadoes their first loss in the 2017 Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, 25-21, 25-22, 12-25, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Petron took full advantage of Foton’s troublesome reception. Going neck-and-neck early in the first set, the Blaze Spikers broke away late as Foton’s offense flopped. From a 14-all tie, Petron ran off with a 22-16 lead to close the opening frame.
Foton’s problematic passing again became a huge problem in the second set. Petron import Hillary Hurley picked apart the Tornadoes’ back line, serving three aces in an 8-0 run that pushed her team to an 18-10 lead. Foton tried to rally back, coming within two points, 24-22, thanks to solid blocking and transition attacks. However, Foton service specialist, Jeanie Sabas, blew her serve in the final point and allowed Petron to escape.
Petron then showed fatigue in what could have been the final set of the match. A step slow in every movement, the Blaze Spikers could only rest their stars as the Tornadoes raced to an 18-6 lead and easily extended the match.
Determined to close the match, Petron’s imports made their imprints in the fourth set. Lindsay Stalzer got the Blaze Spikers to a fiery start, firing in four straight hits for an 11-4 lead. When Foton sued for a comeback, Hillary Hurley quickly silenced their run and gave the Blaze Spikers a 20-11 lead. Coming from behind again, Foton got within four, 23-19, before their own errors gave them their first loss of the conference.
“Sobrang thankful kami kasi nagbunga talaga ‘yung pagpa-plano namin. Talagang inaral namin ‘to,” said Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Nawala talaga kami sa gameplan namin noong third set kaya lalo akong thankful na makitang naka-bounce back agad ‘yung team ko after namin matalo.”
Stalzer finished with 23 points, while Hurley added 20 off 15 attacks, four aces, and a block.
Serbian Sara Klisura did the heavy lifting on offense, scoring 29 points for the Tornadoes, while Jaja Santiago had just 11.
Petron (5-1) take a long break before facing the reeling Iriga City Oragons (1-3) on November 23 at the FilOil Flying V Centre. Foton (4-1) get right back to action on Saturday at the De La Salle University-Lipa Sentrum against the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors (1-3).
Petron (3) – Stalzer 23, Hurley 20, Molina 6, Dimaculangan 4, Reyes 4, Palma 3, Pons 1, Pontillas 1, Rondina 0, Fukuda (L)
Foton (1) – Kilsura 29, Santiago 11, Laure 6, Ortiz 6, Perunicic 6, Perez 5, De Leon 0, Sabas 0, Yongco 0, Vukomanovic (L)