After suffering a sorry setback, defending champion Foton vented its ire on Sta. Lucia Realty as it pulled off a masterful 25-16, 25-11, 25-16 victory in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the La Salle Lipa Sentrum in Lipa City.
Jaja Santiago had a brilliant performance while imports Sara Klisura and Dragana Perunicnic carried the cudgels for the Tornadoes in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
With the win, Foton is now bunched with rival Petron at the second spot with a 5-1 win-loss card behind unbeaten F2 Logistics, who fashion a 4-0 slate in this tourney that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner.
The Cargo Movers, however, still have a handsome chance of improving their standing as they are clashing with lowly Victoria Sports-UST as of press time.
Based on the official league format, the top team after the single-round elimination will take on the eighth seeded squad while the second seed will meet the seventh seed; the third seed will clash with the sixth seed; and the fourth seed will battle the fifth seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal encounter.
The survivors in the quarters will advance to the semis to determine the protagonists in the best-of-three finals series, which starts on Dec. 12.
Foton head coach Moro Branislav knows that every match is important and clinching the top seed will definitely make their road to a three-peat much easier.
“This is a very tough tournament and every game is very important,” said the seasoned Serbian mentor. “For my opinion, we can’t take anybody lightly. We always have to be at our best, work hard and go for the win. Today, the girls showed that they really want another title.”
Santiago, the reigning Most Valuable Player, delivered 11 kills, two aces and a block to finish with 14 points while Klisura and Perunicnic delivered 17 and 14 markers, respectively, for the Tornadoes, who crushed the Lady Realtors at the attack zone, 42-24.
“Of course, we’re happy because everybody delivered,” said the 6-foot-7 Santiago, who made her presence felt after being crushed by the Blaze Spikers in their previous outing.
“We’re glad that we were able to properly execute the things we did in practice. I’m happy that even if we were beaten by Petron, we still managed to come up with a strong rebound.”
Santiago added that they still have to fortify their blocking and reception in order to dominate the Cargo Movers in their next match on Saturday, which is tipped to turn into another blockbuster.
“We know that F2 Logistics has good blockers,” she said. “We must strengthen our middle game and be more consistent with our attacks.
Ukrainian Bodhana Anisova was the lone bright spot on offense for Sta. Lucia with 15 attacks.
The Lady Realtors suffered their fourth setback in five matches.