Foton, Petron share early lead in PSL Grand Prix

Foton, Petron share early lead in PSL Grand Prix
American guest player Ariel Usher of Foton tips the ball away from F2 Logistics import Sydney Kemper.

Defending champion Foton opened its repeat bid on a high note with a masterful 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 demolition of shorthanded F2 Logistics Saturday in the 2016 Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan City.
            
The Tornadoes exacted revenge on their All-Filipino Finals tormentor, taking advantage of the Cargo Movers fielding only one import in Sydney Kemper and missing the services of top hitter Ara Galang due to a minor right knee operation.
            
Foton's American guest players Ariel Usher and reigning Grand Prix Most Valuable Player Lindsay Stalzer, who were with the team since their 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship campaign last month, led Tornadoes' punishing assault on F2 Logistics.
            
Usher had 20 points highlighted by 19 spikes, while Stalzer finished with 13 attacks, a pair of service aces and a block for 16 points including seven digs and six excellent receptions. Six-foot-5 Jaja Santiago chipped in nine points.

"This result, 3-0, is okay but for my opinion this is not maximum for my team. This is only 50 to 60 percent,” said Foton's Serbian coach Moro Branislav, a seasoned mentor who will also call the shots for the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila in the the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.

"But I respect F2 Logistics, they are good too even they only played with one domestic player. This is just the first match,”Branislav added.

In the other game, Petron jumpstarted its campaign with a rousing  25-18, 25-23, 25-14 win over Generika as the Tri-Activ Spikers look to reclaim the title they painfully lost in an upset over Foton last year.

Two-time champion Petron demolished the Life Savers in just 71 minutes with American import Stephanie Niemer doing much of the damage.

She debuted with 18 points anchored on 15 spikes and three service aces including six digs to lead the way for Petron. 

Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and the new skipper Frances Molina chipped in 10 hits each, while the other American reinforcement from Serena Warner added nine points for the Tri-Activ Spikers.

Foton trailed in the third set 3-7 but the team responded right away with eight straight points to gain the set lead 11-7 before Stalzer, Usher and Santiago led for a rampage building a 23-13 spread. 

With a huge advantage, Dindin Santiago-Manabat made her return to the league after giving birth a few months back. F2 Logistics scored two more points before Usher sealed the win with back-to-back hits.

Kemper was limited to only seven points as Aby Marano stepped up for the Cargo Movers with 12 points in a lost cause, while skipper Cha Cruz and Majoy Baron added nine and eight markers, respectively.

Their second import Hailey Dora Spelman, the American reinforcement of Altay VC, is expected to arrive in the country on Tuesday.

Darlene Ramdin, a Trinidad and Tobago national team member, was the lone double digits scorer for Generika finishing with 15 points on 13 attacks and a pair of aces in a losing effort. Ukrainian Polina Liutikova had nine hits as many as the production of local Ria Meneses.

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