Jaja Santiago was out, but it hardly mattered as Foton breezed past Cignal, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 25-14, to preserve its leadership in the Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix presented by PLDT Home Ultera yesterday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Imports Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher stepped up as the Tornadoes raced to their fifth straight victory in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Asics, Mueller, Senoh and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Stalzer had 19 of her 20 points on kills while Usher finished with 15 kills and three aces to come up with a 19-point effort for the Tornadoes, who are looking to defend their title and represent the country in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Chinese Taipei next year.
Maika Ortiz and Dindin Manabat were also impressive chipping in 13 and nine hits, respectively, and did a fantastic job filling the huge void left by the 6-foot-5 Santiago, who left for Japan to join National University in a 12-day training.
“The team played well. And in my opinion, the result will still be the same even if Jaja played,” said Foton’s Serbian coach Moro Branislav, noting that the HD Spikers also played with a handicap in the middle as its import in Lynda Morales failed to suit up due to a left ankle sprain.
“I’m not surprised. This will be the score even if Lynda played and maybe Jaja. This is the real relation for the two teams. I normally push my team to win match 3-0, but one game is a good game and the other day it’s not good. It depends.”
After kicking off the match with quick victories in the first two sets, the Tornadoes found themselves in trouble in the third as Laura Schaudt and Janine Marciano spewed fire.
The HD Spikers erected an 8-3 lead in the first technical timeout before padding it to 19-11, thanks to the strong attacks of Schaudt and Marciano as well as the solid defense Sandra Delos Santos and Mylene Paat.
But after winning the third set, it was all Tornadoes from with Stalzer and Usher peppering the defense with razor-sharp smashes from all angles to build a 9-3 advantage before completely burying the HD Spikers down the stretch.
Branislav said his team relaxed in the third set knowing the Morales is not around.
“Without Lynda people will see we can win the match, 3-0. But it’s very difficult to win it because the players tend to relax after winning two sets,” he said following the masterful conquest that also has Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, F2 Logistics and Petron as sponsors.
Schaudt finished with 14 kills and three aces for 18 points while Marciano had 11 markers for the HD Spikers, who suffered their third setback in four games.
(Malolos Sports and Convention Center)
12:30 pm – F2 Logistics vs Cignal
3:00 pm – Foton vs Generika
5:00 pm – RC Cola-Army vs Petron