Foton Pilipinas had to sweat in saving seventh place through a hard-earned 25-17, 30-28, 25-23 straight sets conquest of T. Grand of Taiwan on Sunday in the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship Sunday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
The Tornadoes had a strong start but had to earn each point in the last two sets before crushing the tough-fighting Chinese, ending their campaign on a winning note.
American reinforcements Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher lit the scoreboard, but it was a total team effort on the defensive end that propelled the Philippines to improve on an eighth place finish when Petron campaigned in the tournament’s previous edition in Phu Ly, Vietnam last year.
Stalzer delivered 18 kills while Usher had 13 attacks and two blocks to finish with 15 points for the Tornadoes, who dominated the Taiwanese in attacks, 58-29, and blocks, 7-5.
“I think we were the stronger team today and we were able to control the game right from the start,” said Stalzer, who is also set to power Foton in the PSL Grand Prix that will open on October 18.
Jaja Santiago, who hardly saw action in the third set after the Tornadoes gained total control of the game, admired the fighting spirit of the T. Grand, a team composed of the developmental team of Chinese Taipei.
Foton Pilipinas’ Italian coach Fabio Menta admitted that the team fell below expectations due to its lack of experience playing in major international tournaments.
Foton Pilipinas was initially eyeing a semifinal finish. But after losing to Altay VC of Kazakhstan at the end of the second round and Ba’yi Shenzheng of China in the quarterfinals, the goal was downgraded to just 5th place.
Unfortunately, it suffered a four-set meltdown to Iran, sending it to a battle for 7th against the Taiwanese while heavyweights Bangkok Glass of Thailand and Altay VC of Kazakhstan dispute the bronze medal and Ba’yi Shenzheng of China and NEC Red Rockets of Japan clash for the crown.