BIÑAN CITY: Ba’yi Shenzhen of China denied Foton Pilipinas’ bid to advance further as it dealt the host squad with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-14 beating in the knockout quarterfinals Friday in the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship Friday at the Alonte Sports Arena here.
The Tornadoes came up with a gallant stand in the first two sets before bowing to the taller, stronger Chinese to kiss their semifinal hopes goodbye in this prestigious continental tourney organized by the Philippine Superliga, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the city government of Binan headed by Congresswoman Len Alonte.
Also advancing to the semifinals of this topnotch continental battle bankrolled by SMM Sport, Nike, Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Foton, BMW, Rexona, PLDT and Price Waterhouse Cooper with Crimson Hotel as official residences and TV5 and SMMTV of Thailand as official broadcast partners was NEC Red Rockets of Japan, which destroyed T. Grand of Chinese Taipei, 25-6, 25-23, 25-13, in the first match.
The Japanese will be facing the winner between Bangkok Glass of Thailand and Thongtin Lienvietpost Bank of Vietnam while the Chinese will clash with the survivor between Altay VC of Kazakhstan and Sarmayeh Bank of Iran in the next round on Saturday.
The Tornadoes were relegated to the classification battle for 5th to 8th places and will tangle with the loser between the Kazakhs and the Iranians also on Saturday.
Foton Pilipinas import Lindsay Stalzer said the setback to China might have completely pushed them out of their target of advancing to the semifinals, but praised her teammates as they fought their hearts out and refused to back down from the tough Chinese, the newly-crowned Olympic champions.
“We’re proud of how we fought,” said Stalzer, who missed a couple of games due to back spasms. “China is a very disciplined team. Their basic skills are very flawless and we were lacking in that area. I’m just proud of the fight, unfortunately, we didn’t execute the game plan well.”
Stalzer chalked up eight kills and a block for a team-high nine points while Jaja Santiago contributed seven markers for the Tornadoes, who displayed some flashes of brilliance in the first two sets before completely collapsing in the decider.
Ba’yi Shenzheng head coach Yu Juemin admitted that Foton Pilipinas played extremely well in the first two sets, forcing him to come up with some major adjustments to avoid a meltdown. In fact, the Tornadoes trailed from 3-8 to 9-11 in the third set, delighting a score of supporters who trooped to the venue to witness world-class volleyball action.
But China scored seven straight points to silence the crowd and seal the victory.
Liu Yanhan, who won the Most Valuable Player award the last time she was in Manila for the Asian U23 Women’s Championship, sizzled with 16 kills and three blocks for 19 points while Chen Yao chipped in 12 hits for the Chinese, who ruled the attack department, 46-25, as well as the blocking (9-3) and service (8-2) categories.
Wang Qi and Wang Yunlu were also impressive for China with 11 hits apiece while playing rock-solid defense that frustrated Foton Pilipinas’ attackers Stalzer, Santiago and Aby Marano.
Foton Pilipinas coach Fabio Menta said despite the setback, they will remain proud and go for a finish that is higher than the 8th place of Petron in the previous edition of this tournament last year in Phu Ly, Vietnam.
“Going to the semifinals was more of a dream of the country,” he said. “We came here with 20 days of preparation. We showed our hearts a lot. We played a lot. And the adventure is not yet over.”