F2 Logistics survived some scary moments down the stretch and completed a masterful 25-18, 25-18, 27-25 victory over Smart in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Gen Trias Sports Center in Gen. Trias City.
Despite playing in a humid venue, imports Maria Jose Perez and Kennedy Bryan were still impressive as they delivered the crucial blows that broke the hearts of the Giga Hitters in this intense battle bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
With the win, F2 Logistics would face the survivor between Foton and Sta. Lucia Realty in a best-of-three semifinal series of this prestigious women’s club tourney that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors starting next week.
Perez, the reigning Most Valuable Player, delivered 17 hits while Bryan notched 15 kills and a block to finish with 16 points for the Cargo Movers, who effectively stopped Cuban sensation Gyselle Silva despite the absence of ace blocker Aby Marano.
Silva, who erupted for a record-breaking 56 points last week, was held to only 25 points while drawing very limited support from Serbian spiker Sanja Trivunovic and local hitters like Genie Sabas and LaRainne Fabay.
Trivunovic, Sabas and Fabay combined for only 16 hits for the Giga Hitters, who committed 20 turnovers in this match that lasted for one hour and 20 minutes.
But it wasn’t an easy victory for the Cargo Movers.
Despite erecting an 8-1 lead after the first technical timeout of the third set, the Giga Hitters caught fire to steal the lead, 18-17, on a powerful backrow attack by Silva.
Smart managed to hang on in the crucial stretch, 25-25, before veteran Cha Cruz delivered a sharp kill from the open position, followed by a service ace that sealed the victory for the defending champion.
“The most challenging part of this win was the weather. I find it too hot so I have to save energy all throughout the game. Every time we have an intense rally, we have to breathe and save our energy because it was too hot here,” said Perez, referring to the hot weather that soared up to 36 to 37 degrees.
She added that Smart pushed them to the limit, especially in the third set where Silva waxed hot and single-handedly towed the Giga Hitters back in the thick of things.
“Smart never gave up,” she said. “They always pushed us whenever we try to take the game away. And I think that’s a good thing for us.”
F2 Logistics coach Arnold Laniog, however, said the job isn’t done.
“It’s still far from over,” said Laniog, who will be part of the coaching staff of the national team under the leadership of multi-titled head coach Ramil de Jesus.
“We still have to work hard to improve our performance because things will get tougher in the semifinals.”
Smart, formed only two weeks before the opening ceremonies, closed its campaign without a win in 11 matches.
Games Tuesday (Filoil Flying V Centre) 4:15 pm – Cocolife vs Cignal 7:00 pm – Foton vs Sta. Lucia