PETRON is now going full blast in its preparation for the Asian Women’s Club Championship in Ha Nam, Vietnam next month.
The Blaze Spikers will be bringing their intact core of Aby Marano, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and Rachel Ann Daquis to the meet, where they are going to be reinforced by returning setter Erika Adachi and Rupia Inck, who is set to arrive in the country on Sept. 1.
Petron earned the right to represent the country in the tournament set September 12 to 20 after winning the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix.
Adachi was part of the Blaze Spikers team that won the title last year, while Inck is a powerful outside hitter who played for the Brazilian national juniors team from 2007 to 2009 before she suited up for Oklahoma Baptist University and Fresno Pacific University in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Aside from Petron's triple threat of Maraño, Santiago-Manabat and Daquis, Frances Molina, Acy Masangkay, Mina Aganon, Mayette Zapanta, Jozza Cabalsa, Ana Marie Del Mundo, Maica Morada and Fille Cainglet-Cayetano comprise the team roster.
“Everybody is training and we're ready to compete,” said Petron coach George Pascua, beaming with excitement as he represents the country anew in an international meet after last carrying the country’s flag during the Asia Pacific Cup in Fukuoka, Japan in 2004 and serving as one of the assistant coaches in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila the following year.
Despite the short time training together prior to the tournament, Pascua is confident of the team's chemistry.
“Although we haven't jelled with our imports, I don't see it as a major problem as Erica is already familiar with our system after being with us in the last Grand Prix,” he said. “We just need to spend a little more time with Rupia and make sure that Erica will get familiar with Aby and Rachel, who were not with us before.”
The Philippines is bunched in Pool B together with the Japan U-18 team, China U-18 team, Azad University of Iran, and the North Korea national team.
Pool A is consists of Lien Viet Post Bank of Vietnam, Kazakhstan University, Chinese Taipei national team, and Bangkok Glass of Thailand, a star-studded squad bannered by star setter Pornpun Guedpard, Wanida Kotruang, and skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow.
PSL president Tats Suzara said the tournament is a highly-competitive one as all teams are capable of winning the crown.
“Petron should do its best and prepare hard because it's going to be a very competitive tournament,” said Suzara, who is also the marketing and development chairman of the Asian Volleyball Confederation.
“But knowing the team's ability to perform well under pressure, I know it can pull off a surprise. The Blaze Spikers swept the past All-Filipino (Conference), so I'm pretty sure they will not go down without putting up a fight,” he added.
Earlier this month, Cignal represented the country in the Asian Men's Club Championship in Chinese Taipei.
Although the HD Spikers played without a pair of reinforcements, they managed to score a straight-sets victory over Qadsia of Kuwait and a five-set thriller over Sohar of Oman.
But the team lost to a strong Ninh Binh of Vietnam in the classification round to close its campaign 12th out of 16 competitors.
Cignal earned the right to compete in the meet after winning the men’s division of the PSL.