Aiza Maizo-Pontillas fuels Petron marathon win over RC-Cola Army

Youth trumped experience as Petron outlasted erstwhile streaking RC Cola-Army in a marathon on Thursday night 19-25, 29-27, 25-22, 14-25, 15-12 and clinched a final round berth in the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil-Flying V Center in San Juan.

Smarting from a 5-setter setback dealt by the resurgent Cignal HD Spikers last Tuesday, the Tri-Activ Spikers blew hot and cold in the first four sets then shifted into high gear in the final frame where they wiped out an 8-11 deficit behind their rejuvenated attack on both ends.

Veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas scattered 15 of her 16 markers off kills, including a crucial pair that put them at match point 14-12, while Bang Pineda added 14 markers, spiked by 12 hits, and recruit CJ Rosario added 13 points for Petron, which tied its victim atop the 6-team field with identical 4-1 marks while securing its spot in the final round along with RC Cola-Army and guest team EST Cola from Thailand.

“Ang sabi ko lang sa mga players ko, ‘Ang tanging makakatalo sa atin ay kapag ayaw nating manalo.’ Kasi ‘yung desire nila ang pinaka-importante para ma-motivate nila,” said Petron coach George Pascua, who was very pleased with his wards’ latest collective performance in this this inter-club tourney sponsored by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.

Read: PSL: Petron, Army in titanic matchup as Cignal fights for life

“Nagje-jelling na sila kaya ‘yung adjustments maganda na,” he added. “Pinatibay namin ‘yung depensa namin, pati ‘yung passing.”

Honey Royse Tubino led all scorers with 20 points, 17 of them off hits, while Joanne Bunag added 11 markers but their usually reliables, Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga, hardly made their presence felt, causing the Lady Troopers to see their four-game winning streak come to a shuddering halt.

His timely reminder to the Tri-Activ Spikers to stay on their toes made a difference according to Pascua. “Sabi ko lang sa kanila, ‘Huwag kayong magpa-intimidate basta sumunod lang kayo sa gameplan natin,” he said.

After getting back their bearings int the fourth set, the Lady Troopers appeared headed for a strong finish as Tubino scored a kill that put stretched their lead to 11-8.

Read: Rachel Daquis motivated to learn from Thai idols in international stint

But the Tri-Activ Spikers came back to life as they scored four straight points, capped by a quick tap courtesy of Mina Aganon.

An off-the-block kill by Gonzaga tied things up anew at 12-apiece but Maizo gave the momentum back to Petron with a pair of kills then Gonzaga incurred an infraction on her offensive try, enabling the Tri-Activ Spikers to escape with the much-needed tonic.

“Sabi ko sa kanila lesson learned ‘yung nangyari against Cignal. Hindi ‘yun pwede maging reason para huminto silang lumaban. ‘Yun pa ang magmo-motivate sa kanila at gawing positibo ‘yung nagyari,” said Pascua. – By Jerome Lagunzad 

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports

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