Heavyweight Petron unleashed torrid attacks before watching Cocolife crumble in the crucial stretch to score a 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 victory in the Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Lindsay Stalzer delivered the goods, lifting the Blaze Spikers to another easy victory in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
The win gave Petron a share of lead with idle Foton at 7-1.
But its chances of clinching the top spot in the sudden-death quarterfinals appear nil as F2 Logistics will gain superior quotient provided that it clobbers struggling Iriga City in the final day of eliminations on Saturday.
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos said they are ready to take the second spot and face the seventh seed in the next round that starts on Tuesday.
“Based on our calculation, if F2 Logistics will win over Iriga City on Saturday, we will take the second spot in the quarterfinals,” said Delos Santos, who steered the Blaze Spikers to the All-Filipino title earlier this year.
“That’s the importance of our victory today. We will go to the quarterfinals with high morale and ready for battle,” he said.
Stalzer, the Most Valuable Player of this battle that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner two years ago, fired 11 kills, three blocks and two aces for 16 points while carrying the cudgels in the deciding set to keep Petron within striking distance, 18-20.
Hillary Hurley scored on a block and a kill to knot the count before Frances Molina unleashed a powerful hit from the open spot to grab the lead, 21-20.
Cocolife reinforcement Tai Manu-Olevao tied the game at 21, but she committed an attack error followed by another error by Wensh Tiu and another by Lutgarda Malaluan that gave the Blaze Spikers the match point, 24-21.
Then, Molina converted on a well-executed combination play to seal the victory.
“I told the team that they should not underestimate the opponent,” said Delos Santos, whose wards were given 25 extra points off the errors by the Asset Managers.
“So far, we’re not thinking of anything yet – not even the semis. Our eyes are set on finishing strong and winning the quarterfinals because at this point, one miss and you’re out. We don’t want to fall into that.”
Manu-Olevao tallied 15 attacks and an ace for 16 points for the Asset Managers, who finished the eliminations with a 3-5 win-loss card.
Their fate in the quarterfinals, however, still depends on the outcome of the matches between Generika-Ayala and Sta. Lucia later in the day, as well as on the Cignal and Victoria Sports-UST game on Saturday.