PSL: Blaze Spikers face winless Lady Skippers as quarterfinals start

Games Today: (Filoil Flying V Centre)
4:15 p.m. – Foton vs PLDT
7:00 p.m. – Petron vs Marinerang Pilipina

Fights for survival kick off as leader Petron clashes with Marinerang Pilipina while Foton tackles PLDT Home Fibr when the quarterfinals of the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference erupts today at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

After finishing the double-round preliminaries on top, the Blaze Spikers earned the right to battle winless Lady Skippers in a sudden-death showdown at 7 p.m. while third seed Tornadoes face sixth seed Power Hitters in the other semifinal pairing at 4:15 p.m.

Petron emerged with an emphatic 13-1 win-loss card while rival F2 Logistics fell to second spot with 12-2, no thanks to a pair of heart-breaking setbacks that it suffered in the crucial stretch of the preliminaries of this prestigious women’s club tourney that has ESPN5 and Kapatid TV5 as broadcast partners.

Jajs Santiago over Judith Abil and Ivy Remulla
Jajs Santiago over Judith Abil and Ivy Remulla

Foton, meanwhile, walked away with the third spot following a 25-15, 29-27, 25-14 win over Marinerang Pilipina late Tuesday while Generika-Ayala took on the fourth with an 8-6 win-loss mark.

The survivor in the Petron-Marinerang Pilipina clash will take on the victor between Generika-Ayala and Cignal while the winner between Foton and PLDT will clash with the conqueror of the F2 Logistics-Sta. Lucia battle in the semifinals, where the higher ranked team enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage.

But all eyes will be on Petron.

After suffering a minor setback when it lost a four-set decision to F2 Logistics in the early stretch of this tourney that has Team Rebel Sports, SOGO, Eurotel, PCSO, Cocolife, UCPB Gen, Mueller, Senoh, Asics, Bizooku and One Sport as sponsors, Petron has been unstoppable as it won its next 11 matches.

In their previous game in Cagayan de Oro City, the high-flying duo of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons put on a show to engineer a come-from-behind victory.

Rondina, the reigning Most Valuable Player of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, delivered 32 points while Pons provided the stability at both ends, including the match-grabbing kill that completed their five-set victory.

Still, Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos doesn’t want to be complacent.

“We can’t afford to be complacent because we’re already in the knockout stage. We have to prepare well against Marinerang Pilipina,” said Delos Santos, who guided Petron to back-to-back All-Filipino crowns.

“Being on top is a huge opportunity. So we have to take care of it by keeping our focus and not letting any distraction get into the way.”

Aside from Pons and Rondina, who will represent the country in the beach volleyball tournament of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, also tipped to carry Petron are Ces Molina, Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Rhea Dimaculangan and Denden Lazaro.

They will be up against the young crew of Dimdim Pacres, Judith Abil, Rhea Ramirez and Cesca Ramirez with former La Salle star Ivy Remulla providing veteran presence.