Volleyball evangelist Tex Suter offers his breakdown of the PSL All-Filipino Conference match between Petron and Foton on Thursday.
GAME 3: Petron def. Foton, 23-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-15, 15-9
Here was a game between two powerhouses of the league — both teams stacked up and down their respective lineups. F2 with their La Salle laden roster, and Petron with a hodgepodge of players from different schools. Who would be more cohesive in the end game? Here is what happened.
The first set saw both teams really try to impose their will on the other. F2 was trying to rule the middle and get isolation for their wings, Petron was trying the same ploy. The set boiled down to poise in the end game. Petron was able to build a slight lead 21-18 before losing focus for just an instant. Before they knew it we were knotted up at 23 apiece. That was all F2 needed to squeak by in this set. F2 took it 25-23. F2 was more efficient in the transition game. Dawn Macandili lived up to her reputation, giving Kim Fajardo numerous chances to run her offense in tempo.
Set 2 was almost a complete repeat of the first. Petron building a lead, then losing poise on the defensive side to allow F2 to again draw even at 23-all. Coach Shaq of Petron plead with his team to not focus on anything else but the basics. He was harping that all the offensive discussion is useless if they cannot execute the basics. The poor passing of Petron limited their setter Rhea Dimaculangan to a slow tempo, wing offense. The blockers of F2 were just too good for a slow paced game. F2’s left side hitter Des Cheng was wreaking havoc as she was in a great rhythm with the offense. Petron fell again in the set 23-25. Their transition not as kinetic as their coach would want.
Set 3 saw some changes to Petron’s lineup. Sisi Rondina, Toni Basas and Mika Reyes were inserted as starters for this set. Coach Shaq shuffled his roster to find a combination that would be productive on both sides of the ball. The energy of Petron got an instant boost as Rondina was putting pressure on the defense form the left side. Her success was due to Mika Reyes running disciplined routes that froze or delayed the middle blockers of F2 on their pivot to the wings. Sisi made a living finding seams in the block and abusing zone 1 (service area) of F2. The sweepers of F2 failed to follow the defensive pattern. Just when F2 thought they had figured Sisi out, Toni Basas would hit from the right, or Rondina on the second option. F2’s block was kept off balanced. Another factor that hurt F2 was their poor passing. This negated their middles from ruling the net, and allowed Petron time to return to defensive base easily. With no quick attacks, the defense was poised for the wing attacks. Petron routed the Cargo Movers 25-14.
Set 4 was almost a repeat of the third. Petron building a lead, only this time they would not relinquish it. They kept pressure on F2’s defense and induced poor transition opportunities. F2’s tempo was off, and it affected their offense greatly. The passing continued to be sub-par causing limited offense. Cheng who was so effective in the first two sets, was now getting checked and seemed to lose confidence. This was apparently being experienced by the entire F2 team. Aby Marano tried to rally her team by example, but the poor service reception and transition defense pretty much negated her attempts. Petron was in a groove and the team was firing on all cylinders. This was too much for F2, and they fell 25-15 to force a fifth and deciding set.
Set 5 was all about poise. Petron had it, and F2 did not. There was no swagger or pep in the step of F2. Their body language said it all, as Petron seemingly took the fight out of F2. The hitters of F2 still had no conviction on offense, and that led to a lot of watching on defense. F2 had no more answers as Petron put them away 15-9. To borrow the famous answer of Coach Moro, “without reception, nothing follows.” That is what happened to F2 in this game.
What happened here was a team that had poise, lost it and could not recover played against a team that did not have it, but found it in the latter sets. F2 won the first two sets, but could not maintain their focus to close it out. Petron, on the other hand, struggled to find their poise and when they did they never lost it. That is a lesson in poise, belief in a system and execution on the court. It does not matter how you start, but rather how you finish. Petron showed why they are perennial powerhouses of the league. Kudos to Sisi Rondina for getting Best Player honors for finishing with 21 points. Mika Reyes finished with only six points, three of those blocks. She showed her value, despite still recovering from the flu did her job and lit up the unwritten stat sheet of running disciplined routes and doing her job to free up the wings. Game well played Petron!
The second game showed how the Cocolife Asset Managers welcomed the young Cherrylume Iron Lady Warriors to the league with a leson in the transition game. The Asset Managers handily taking the match in straight sets, 25-16, 25-17 and 25-11. Michele Gumabao top scored with 15 points while Mary Ann Mendrez top billed for Cherrylume with 11 points. Special kudos to Denden Lazaro for putting on a clinic on how a libero should move. Lazaro didn’t take the younger competition for granted, covering her floor to allow a transition game for Cocolife.