Katarina Pilepic caught fire down the stretch to power Generika-Ayala to an easy conquest of Victoria Sports-UST, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Pilepic was unstoppable in the deciding set as the Lifesavers creamed the Tigresses in just 75 minutes of action in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
With the win, the Lifesavers climbed the team standing with a 3-4 win-loss mark, giving them a good chance of avoiding powerhouse teams Petron, F2 Logistics and two-time champion Foton in the sudden-death quarterfinal battles on Dec. 5.
“Our goal is to aim high,” said Generika-Ayala coach Francis Vicente, whose wards will enter their final elimination round game against Sta. Lucia Realty oozing with confidence.
“Whatever the result will be, our goal is to aim high. We will just prepare whoever will be our opponent in the quarterfinalsm,” he added.
A recruit from Croatia, Pilepic knocked down 18 kills, two blocks and two aces for a game-high 22 points while Chloe Cortez delivered nine points for the Lifesavers, who opted to give Darlene Ramdin a good rest.
Ramdin, a Trinidad and Tobago national team member, saw very limited action to finish with only six points as Angeli Araneta and Shaya Adorador got the lion’s share of the minutes at the wing spots.
“I don’t want our locals to lean more on our imports,” Vicente added. “I told them to just keep their focus and play their game.”
The Lifesavers were a picture of determination in the first two sets.
But in the third set, the college girls from University of Santo Tomas started to wax hot at the defensive end, giving the Lifesavers a hard time at the attack zone.
But with the match tied at 23, Pilepic connected on a hard kill before watching Dimdim Pacres commit an attack error at the other end.
“UST is improving every game,” said Vicente, whose squad dominated the Tigresses at the attacks (40-30), blocks (6-1) and service (7-6) departments. “Their reception was superb. This team will go far in the UAAP.”
Pacres nailed eight kills and two aces to finish with 10 points while Tin Francisco and Carla Sandoval had eight and seven markers, respectively, for the Tigresses, who absorbed their fifth straight setback.