The Philippine Superliga (PSL) rewarded newly-minted PSL All-Filipino Conference champion with a ticket to represent the league in the Macau Invitational Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
PSL president Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara said the Blaze Spikers earned the honor to compete in the Sept. 23-25 tournament by winning the All-Filipino Conference over ousted champion F2 Logistics via a sweep of their best-of-three series on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
A ranking member of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), Suzara said the tournament could help boost the development of the sport in the country. He also said it is fitting that the league sends the All-Filipino champion team Petron as the country’s representative to Macau.
Aside from the Philippines, also fielding a team in the topnotch tourney are China, Hongkong and the host country.
It would be the first time for the Blaze Spikers to represent the country in a foreign competition after donning the national colors in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Phu Ly, Vietnam in 2015.
“For winning the All-Filipino it is only fitting that we appoint Petron as our representative in the Macau tournament,” said Suzara, adding that the tourney would also serve as Petron’s preparation for the Grand Prix.
“We are very confident that Petron will be very competitive based on how it fared in the finals series against F2 Logistics. I’m sure they will play hard and make the country and the league very proud.”
Petron’s journey to the title of the All-Filipino tourney bankrolled by Rebisco, Gold’s Gym and Belo with TV5 as official broadcast partner did not come easy.
Despite coming up with a very competitive squad led by Most Valuable Player Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes, Sisi Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma and Ria Meneses, a lot of challenges still came the Blaze Spikers’ way.
They looked shaky during the preliminaries and even suffered a pair of setbacks to veteran-laden Cignal side that relegated them to the third spot in the quarterfinals.
Although they dominated Sta. Lucia Realty in the quarterfinals and stunned topseed Foton in the semifinals, observers still counted them out due to the fluid chemistry, firepower and solid defense of the reigning champion, F2 Logistics.
The finals, however, was a different story.
Petron marched oozing with confidence and crushed F2 Logistics in straight sets in Game 1, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19, to move closer to the crown.
The Cargo Movers tried to stay alive and gamely turned Game 2 into a marathon match. But the Blaze Spikers proved that they were the hungrier team, running away with a thrilling 26-24, 24-26, 26-24, 23-25, 15-11 victory with a massive crowd serving as a fitting backdrop to their climb back to the throne.
“Communication was the key to this victory,” said Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos, thumbing down speculations that his “super team” was to fail finding chemistry in a very short – but competitive – conference.
“Every time we practiced, even the day before the game, we always talked and discussed everything. I’m not the only one who did the talking. Everybody contributed to the discussion. It gave us a very good result because we got an idea on how we think and what we are capable of doing.”
Delos Santos said that although it was already a mission accomplished for them, they will still remain hungry and will keep on working harder for the next tournament.