NOT even an injury could slow down Dindin Santiago and the Petron Blaze Spikers.
Playing with two bum knees, the 6-foot-4 Santiago still stamped her towering presence as the Blaze Spikers sent RC Cola-Philippine Air Force back to earth, coasting to a 25-22, 25-13, 26-24 victory on Sunday in the Philippine Super Liga at the Cuneta Astrodome.
After averaging a whopping 34 points in her first two games, the National University product was limited to 23 points this time, still good enough to lead the Blaze Spikers to their third successive victory that enabled them to supplant their victims at the top spot.
It was the first loss in four matches for the Raiders, who have been on a resurgence in the All-Filipino conference after floundering in the PSL Grand Prix.
Coming off two five-set wins, the Blaze Spikers braced for another grueling battle against an erstwhile unbeaten team. Instead, they surprisingly emerged on the winning end of a blowout thanks to the Raiders’ poor reception.
“Malaking improvement ng players namin. Pinatibay pa namin yung loob namin at yung atake namin, mas pinabilis pa namin,” Blaze Spikers coach George Pascua said.
Santiago, who scattered 19 hits, two blocks, and two aces, drew support from Sandra de los Santos, who had 11 points, while Mary Grace Masangkay facilitated the offense, tallying all but one of the Spikers’ 25 excellent sets.
No one scored in double digits for the Raiders as Iari Yongco and Judy Caballejo wound up with just eight markers each.
Behind Maika Ortiz, the Raiders tried to force a fourth set, scoring three unanswered points, including two off Petron errors, to knot the count to 24 in the third set, before Santiago finished the game off with two consecutive spikes.