The quarterfinal pairings have been set, but intense action is still expected when Cignal collides with Generika-Ayala in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference today at the Baliwag Star Arena in Baliuag, Bulacan.
Riding the crest of their gigantic conquest of Petron last week, the HD Spikers clash with the Lifesavers at 7 pm, hoping to shut down their campaign in the preliminaries of this tourney bankrolled by Rebisco, Belo and Gold’s Gym with TV5 as official broadcast partner on a high note.
Prior to that, Cocolife tests Cherrylume at 5 pm for a victory that would serve as a fitting prelude to the quarterfinals of this prestigious women’s volleyball league that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Mueller, Asics and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
Despite surrendering to the Blaze Spikers in five sets in Batangas City over the weekend, league-leading Foton will still assume the top seed in the crossover quarterfinals due to its superior quotient over Cignal.
The Tornadoes will battle winless Cherrylume in the do-or-die quarters due to the Iron Lady Warriors’ inferior quotient to the Asset Managers.
Other quarterfinal pairings will feature Cignal against Cocolife; Petron against Sta. Lucia; and Generika-Ayala against F2 Logistics. Quarterfinal action kicks off this Thursday when the league rolls back to Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Meantime, all eyes will be on Cignal, a team bannered by the powerful triumvirate of Rachel Anne Daquis, Honey Royse Tubino and national team stalwart Jovelyn Gonzaga.
After bowing to the Tornadoes, the HD Spikers came up with a major rebound as they dominated bitter rival Blaze Spikers before a massive weekday crowd last Thursday.
The troika of Daquis, Gonzaga and Tubino were the stars of the show as they took turns in destroying the defensive fortress established by middle blockers Mika Reyes, Remy Palma and Ria Meneses at the net.
But Cignal coach George Pascua said the battle is still far from over.
“We can’t afford to be complacent,” said Pascua, the architect of Petron’s clean sweep of this tourney two years ago. “Things are going tough from here. We have to work hard because everybody is also preparing as well.”
True enough, Cignal will face a squad capable of pulling off a shocking upset – Generika-Ayala.
In their previous match, in fact, the Lifesavers bravely exposed the chink in the Tornadoes’ defensive armor in the first two sets, prompting Serbian coach Moro Branislav to dig deeper into his playbook for instant solutions.
Foton went on to survive in five sets, but Generika-Ayala proved that it could also stand its ground against the big guns of the league.
“We’re playing each game as if it is our last,” said Generika-Ayala coach Francis Vicente. “Our morale is high after giving Foton a scare. The players realized that they are also capable of winning over the heavyweights of the league.”
Vicente stressed that open spikers Fiola Ceballos and Patty Jane Orendain will again provide the firepower while skipper Gen Casugod, Mikaela Lopez and Angeli Araneta as well as liberos Bia General and Kath Arado take care of the defense.
“We want to finish the preliminaries on a high note then let’s see what will happen in the quarterfinals. All we’ll do is to work hard, play hard and hope for the best.”