PETRON outlasted PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo in a thrilling five-setter on Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the Philippine Super Liga at the PhilSports Arena.
Like a diesel engine that took long to heat up, the Blaze Spikers recovered from a jittery start and outsteadied the Puffins 27-29, 25-13, 22-25, 25-22, 15-12 to join outright semifinalists Philippine Army (4-1) and Cignal (3-2).
Maika Ortiz had 15 points, while Fille Cainglet, Aiza Maizo and Rhea Dimaculangan contributed 14, 13 and 11 markers, respectively, as Petron arranged a semifinal duel with Cignal HD.
Petron struggled early in a match that took two hours and six minutes to decide, but recovered in the final two sets.
"Medyo na-rattle sa una eh," said Petron coach Vilet Ponce de Leon. "I had to tell them to focus again. I-block nila 'yung mga naririnig (sa crowd), kasi 'di na maka-atake, 'di na rin maka-set up ng magandang play."
In the fourth, Maizo and Cainglet took charge as the Blaze Spikers pulled away from a tied 17-all game.
Maizo sparked a 6-2 run as the Blaze Spikers took control 23-19 and went on to force a fifth set.
The Blaze Spikers sustained the momentum entering the final set and took an early 5-0 lead.
The Puffins, however, tied the match, 6-6, after Petron committed four unforced errors.
Charo Soriano and Judy Caballejo came up with a 3-0 spurt to put Petron back in the driver's seat, 11-8, and the Blaze Spikers never looked back until the end as Rhea Dimaculangan took care of the finishing touches with her left hand tip to seal the win.
"Si Aiza kasi ang tagal mag-init pero gusto ko 'yun kasi ang pag-init niya towards the end of the game," said Ponce de Leon.
"Si Fille naman consistent siya," she added. "Sure 'yung bola sa kanya, 'di kailangan masyado diin pero pasok. Si Judy matibay sa depensa we just have to give her confidence sa atake, pero okay siya today."
The Blaze Spikers also capitalized on the Puffins' errors (37-27).
Maureen Penetrante and Michelle Gumabao led PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo with 17 and 16 points, while also coming up with five and four blocks, respectively.
The Puffins had a total of 12 block points against eight by Petron.
"Nag-improve sila, nag-step up sila sa depensa mas naging aggressive unlike noong first meeting namin (sa eliminations)," said Ponce de Leon.
Maica Morada, Mic-Mic Laborte and Iris Patrona chipped in 13, 11 and 10 points for PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo.