by Jerome Lagunzad
Powerhouse Petron reasserted its mastery of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20, 26-24, on Saturday night and clinched an outright semifinals berth in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference at the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
Far Eastern University star Bernadeth Pons dished out her finest showing yet with 16 points, built around 14 kills and two blocks, while Mika Reyes added 13 points and Sisi Rondina had 11 points for Petron.
The Blaze Spikers closed out their preliminary campaign on a high note and forged a three-way tie on top of Group A alongside the Lifesavers and the Cargo Movers with similar 3-1 cards.
Petron emerged with the highest quotient in the tie-break system and automatically advanced to the Final Four round, joining defending champion Cignal which completed a four-game sweep of Group B earlier in the day.
The Blaze Spikers, together with the HD Spikers, will have a week-long break before they take on their respective semis foes in a pair of knockout matches.
“It feels good (to clinch the outright semis spot), but for us, we still need to work hard,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos. “As I told them after our last game, we just need to believe in ourselves. Hopefully, we’ll get better in our next games.”
Meanwhile, the HD Spikers sustained their red-hot form at the expense of the Cocolife Asset Managers, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22.
Skipper Rachel Anne Daquis stood at the forefront of Cignal’s strong attack anew, tallying 15 points, 13 of them coming on the offensive end capped by the game-winning kill from the backrow, on top of seven successful digs.
“Rachel was really very eager to win this game for us. She played in beast mode and carried the team,” said Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga, who also got seven successful digs and a pair of blocks from the former Queen Tamaraw.
“We came in a bit relax because our opponents is already out of contention and then we realized that we cannot afford to lose this game because we might blow our opportunity for an outright semis berth.”