THE sun finally shined on Petron.
On a rainy Thursday night, the Blaze Spikers ended a two-year title drought in the Philippine Super Liga by beating F2 Logistics, 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 15-11 to complete a sweep of the All-Filipino Conference finals at The Arena in San Juan.
Sisi Rondina led the charge with 16 points for Petron, while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas added 14. Bernadette Pons had 12 markers and skipper Ces Molina chipped in 10.
“Syempre sorbang happy,” said Petron coach Shaq delos Santos, who bagged his first PSL title.
“Super team? More on usap kasi eh, ‘kung communication sobrang importante sa amin (‘yun ang key ng panalo namin),” he added. “Lahat ng plan namin, na-push namin ang mga sarili namin.”
Tied at 7-7, Molina took matters into her own hands and scored five of Petron’s last eight points to push the Blaze Spikers at match point, 14-11, before a net violation by the Cargo Movers handed the Petron the title.
“After two years, ngayon ko lang unit natikman and championship so sobrang saya,” said Molina.
“Both teams naghirap at nagpakapagod, wala akong masabi kasi ginalingan talaga nila (Cargo Movers) mas ginusto lang talaga namin manalo,” she added.
But the Blaze Spikers had to fight tooth and nail before winning the crown.
Petron romped to a 19-15 lead before F2 Logistics reached set point, 24-22, but a 4-0 run capped by a Mika Reyes block on Kim Dy gave Petron the first set.
The Blaze Spikers then took a 24-20 lead in the second set only to watch the Cargo Movers rally to get the frame.
F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus, who vowed to extend the series, pulled off a surprise in the third set and fielded in Cha Cruz and the former La Salle star did not disappoint.
Still, Toni Rose Basas pushed the Blaze Spikers at set point, 24-23 before Tin Tiamzon came up with back-to-back points and Majoy Baron scored on a service ace to give F2 Logistics a 2-1 set lead in the match.
Tied at 19 in the fourth set, Rondina was unstoppable with four straight points to give Petron the lead, 23-19. However, Baron was quick to adjust, 22-23, but Mela Tunay, who came off the bench, and Maizo-Pontillas bailed out the Blaze Spikers.
The victory couldn’t be any sweeter for a team that once started as a dreaded beast after winning back-to-back titles.
The Blaze Spikers ruled the 2014 Grand Prix with American import Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian playmaker Erika Adachi leading the way and in the 2015 All-FIlipino the powerful trio of Marano, Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Rachel Anne Daquis steered the team into a historic a 13-0 sweep.
But that was the end of their dominance as Marano reunited with her La Salle teammates with F2 Logistics, Daquis returned to Philippine Army and Santiago-Manabat joined her sister Jaja in Foton.
Petron recalled veterans Maizo-Pontillas, April Ross Hingpit, Pineda and CJ Rosario to beef up the team composed of skipper Molina and Mina Aganon but the title was still elusive.
Late last year, San Miguel Corp. had to step in and ordered for a major revamp for the team that led to the recruitment of Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma, Ria Meneses and Mela Tunay during the offseason.
It was a gallant stand for the Cargo Movers but Ara Galang’s 20 points went down the drain.
Marano, who was inconsolable after the game, had 14 markers, while Baron added 13 and Tiamzon chipped in 10.