PHU LY, Vietnam - After absorbing a bitter straight-set loss in the opener, Petron troops back to the warpath, eager to bounce back against Islamic Azad University of Iran in the 2015 AVC Asian Women's Club Championship Monday at the Ha Nam Competition Hall here.
The Blaze Spikers clash with dangerous Iranians at 9 pm (Manila time) looking to put their campaign in this prestigious nine-country tourney back on the track to have a fighting chance for the lone ticket in the FIVB World Women's Club Championship next year.
The reigning Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix champion had a sluggish start as it opened its campaign with a sorry 13-25, 18-25, 11-25 setback to 4.25 Sports Club of North Korea late Friday.
During the game, Brazilian import Rupia Inck Furtado struggled on both ends, while local spikers Aby Marano, Dindin Manabat, and Rachel Anne Daquis had no answer to the brutal North Korean defense during the entire one hour and 14 minutes of battle.
Furtado, the former Brazilian juniors national team stalwart, huffed and puffed to a total of seven points with five kills and an ace. Manabat also had seven points while Daquis and Marano chipped in four points apiece.
“It was Rupia's first game with us so this flat performance is pretty understandable,” said Petron coach George Pascua, who drew an impressive 53-set performance from reinforcement Erica Adachi.
“We are planning to convert her to the open position to maximize her strength and make her more comfortable offensively. This is just one game. I hope she bounces back in our next game against Iran.”
Iran, however, will be no easy opponent.
Although they have no foreign players, the Iranians are one of the most solid teams in the tournament after coming off a successful campaign in the Iranian Super League.
Unfortunately, they share the same fate with the Blaze Spikers as they also dropped their opening game to powerhouse Zhejiang of China.
Pascua said winning over Iran is a tall order since they will be stacked against two of Asia's best teams -- two-time champion Hisamitsu Seikayu Springs of Japan on Tuesday and Zhejiang of China on Wednesday.
“It's now or never for us,” he said. “We must get our acts together because winning over Iran is more realistic than pulling an upset victory over Japan or China. This game (against Iran) will determine our fate in the entire tournament.”
Also expected to step up for Petron are the support crew of Frances Molina, Fille Cayetano, Mayette Zapanta, Jen Reyes, Acy Masangkay, Mina Aganon and skipper Maica Morada.