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PH team books second win after sweep of Team Sparkle

The Philippine women's volleyball team remained undefeated in the 2019 PSL Super Cup after routing Team Sparkle, 25-12, 25-18, 25-18, Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Ces Molina spearheaded the attack in the absence of ace hitter Kalei Mau, who did not suit up due to a strained neck muscle. Molina delivered a game-high 17 points built on 12 spikes, two blocks, and three aces, alongside 11 digs.

Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure also finished in double-digits, finishing with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The national team took advantage of Team Sparkle's poor reception, unleashing 11 service aces, four of which came from setter Rhea Dimaculangan who orchestrated the offense with 16 excellent sets.

After dominating the opening period, the Philippine team had to overcome a slow start in the second set before pulling away down the stretch.

"Even if Team Sparkle led in the second set, we were able to catch up," said team captain Aby Maraño. "That's our target, even if the opponent is leading, what's important is how we catch up, and at the same time, be consistent in the endgame."

The Philippine team came out strong in the closing rallies of Set 3 to complete the straight-sets victory, with Maddie Madayag serving the finishing blow with a running attack.

Mika Reyes played sparingly towards the end of the second and third sets, which marked her return to action since hurting her knee during the PSL All-Filipino Conference last September. The star middle blocker missed out on the national team's ASEAN Grand Prix tourney, as well as Petron's campaign in the PSL Invitationals.

Mina Aganon led anew for Team Sparkle with seven points and six digs.

The Philippine team will march onto its final battle Friday against the University of Tsukuba, which also swept both PSL selection teams Shine and Sparkle.

"We need to watch the videos of their last two games and study, especially their hard service. We need to prepare well," national coach Shaq delos Santos said about the marquee matchup. "It would be best if we can show what we really have as a team and enjoy the game. Hopefully, we can show that we're used to playing a Japanese opponent because we just came from Japan."

"Everything we're doing now is an application of what we learned in Japan," added Maraño. "Tomorrow when we face them, we are well-prepared because we had two games where we were able to execute what we learned there."