CEBU — Air Asia downed erstwhile leader Petron to gain a share of the top spot on the women’s side, while Cignal HD took solo second spot in the men’s division with victory over Systema on Saturday in the Philippine Super Liga at the University of San Carlos gym.
The Flying Spikers withstood a furious fightback by Petron in the fourth set for a 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23 victory.
It was their fourth win in six matches, forging a three-way tie for the lead with Generika-Army and RC Cola-Air Force.
Petron fell to 3-2 and now face a must-win match against Cignal on Wednesday.
Down by eight, 8-16, Petron clawed its way back and pulled to within one, 23-24, after two straight errors by AirAsia’s Abi Maraño.
However, Sandra de los Santos put an end to their own rally with a serve that sailed out of bounds.
Skipper Cha Cruz led the assault with 13 kills and wound up with 19 points, while Stephanie Mercado contributed 14 markers for the Flying Spikers.
Dindin Santiago, the top overall pick in the rookie draft who averaged over 30 points in her first three outings, struggled for most of the game and finished with 17 points.
Former La Salle star Michelle Gumabao, who recently finished a stint in a reality television show, made her debut with AirAsia in the All Filipino conference, scoring three points.
“Thumbs-up ako kay Michelle. She had only three practices with us so I didn't really expect this kind of performance from her. She did a lot of things that don't reflect on the stat sheet. It was her defense, heart, hustle and leadership which gave us this win," said AirAsia coach Ramil de Jesus.
In men’s play, the Cignal HD Spikers overcame a slow start to win, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23, over the Systema Active Smashers.
Howard Mojica nailed 15 kills and had a total of 18 points, while Edmar Sanchez and Jay Dela Cruz chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively, for the HD Spikers.
Former University of the Visayas standout Mike Abria also delivered huge with 11 points and crucial plays to push the HD Spikers to their fourth win in six games.
The win put Cignal in second place behind the unbeaten PLDT Power Attackers.
Systema made some offensive adjustments that surprised Cignal, and the Active Smashers led by Mark Lee and Chris Macasaet took the opening set in the Super Liga’s first out of town match.
However, Systema fell into a maze of errors in the second set and allowed Cignal to take control.
John Depante caught fire in the fourth, igniting a late charge to put the Active Smashers within a point, 23-24. But they failed to come up with a good reception in the ensuing play, setting the stage for Abria to deliver the winning shot.
Depante 16 points, 12 from kills, while Myco Antonio and Lee chipped in 13 and 12 markers, respectively, for the Active Smashers, who fell to third place with a 3-3 win-loss card.