KATHERINE Bell and Stephanie Niemer powered Petron to recover from a diesel-like start before beating Cignal, 20-25, 25-14, 25-13, 25–18, to inch a win closer from marching to its fourth straight Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Finals appearance on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Coming off a 17-day break since their quarterfinals game against Sta. Lucia last April 6, the Blaze Spikers needed to buck a rusty start losing to the HD Spikers in the first set of Game One of the semifinals before claiming their 16th consecutive win.
It was just the second time for Petron to drop a set in 16 games since losing one set to F2 Logistics in the first round but their super imports came to the rescue and lifted the team.
Bell and Niemer unleashed 24 points each putting Petron just a win away from its ninth consecutive finals appearance and 13th overall.
Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos admitted that the long break was a major factor of their first set loss.
“I think part naman lagi yun. Siyempre natatalo ka. Ang importante magbounce back ka,” said Delos Santos “Medyo nainip lang kami sa paghihintay. I think 17 games din kami walang games. Siyempre kahit sabihin mo na okay yung team namin pero siyempre may adjustments pa rin.”
“Nakita ko naman na mabilis nagadjust yung team. Wala naman kaming masyadong naging issue doon sa first set ang kailangan lang namin mafeel lang namin yung laro namin,” he added.
The Blaze Spikers try to sweep the HD Spikers on Thursday.
Erica Wilson and Ana Artemeva carried the cudgels of Cignal with 19 and 14 points, respectively, but the HD Spikers couldn’t utilize their huge first set win.