Foton claims repeat Grand Prix title
BACK-TO-BACK: Foton made history as the first team to win two straight PSL Grand Prix titles.
Foton turned what was expected to be a tight contest into a four-set beat down as the Tornadoes annexed their second straight Philippine Superliga Grand Prix title Saturday night.
A stark contrast from the series opener where the Tornadoes needed a huge rally after going down two sets behind, Foton went down to work early to dictate the tempo for a 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-17 win over arch rival Petron in Game 2 of the best-of-three Finals at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
American import Lindsay Stalzer once again powered the Tornadoes to victory against the same squad they dethroned last year in three games. Towering 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago and American reinforcement Ariel Usher provided support for Stalzer in Foton's fourth straight win against Petron in as many meetings in the foreign player-laden season-ending conference.
Second Best Outside Spiker Usher scored 19 points with 16 coming off kills, while Stalzer finished with 12 attacks in her total of 14 markers for Foton. Grand Prix Most Valuable Player Santiago got 10 points for the Tornadoes.
Foton, which made history as the first team to win back-to-back Grand Prix titles, bravely clawed its way out of a two-set hole to eke out a dramatic 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-9 victory over Petron in Game 1 late Thursday night.
After controlling the first two frames, Foton squandered a 20-18 lead in the third set only to see the Tri-Activ Spikers rally to take a 23-21 advantage behind workhorse American hitter Stephanie Niemer and Serena Warner. The Tornadoes saved a point on Petron's 15th error of the frame before the Tri-Activ Spikers closed the set to extend the match.
But the set loss proved to be a short delay for the Tornadoes as Foton built a 13-4 advantage. The Tri-Activ Spikers were able to close the gap, 9-13, before Foton got a second wind to finally put the game away.
As a reward for their conquest, the Tornadoes will again represent the country in the Asian Women's Club Championship in Kazakhstan next year after a seventh place finish last September in Binan, Laguna.
Niemer, the 1st Best Outside Spiker, had 31 points with 29 coming off attacks while Warner got 10 for the Tri-Activ Spikers, who gave away 38 points off their errors.
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