Foton sends Army reeling to a three-game losing slump
Mark Escarlote on Jul 28, 2016 08:35 PM
Jaja Santiago of Foton punches a hole on the defense of RC Cola-Army's Royse Tubino and Joanne Bunag.
LIPA CITY, Batangas --- Youthful middle Jaja Santiago and energetic new recruit Cherry Rondina waxed hot on offense and were the steady hands for Foton Tornadoes in the fifth set to overpower the seasoned RC Cola-Army, 18-25, 25-15, 25-17, 23-25, 15-9, Thursday in Group A second round preliminary stage of the 2016 Philippine Superliga All Filipino Conference at De La Salle-Lipa Sentrum here.
The 6-foot-5 Santiago lorded it over in the deciding set, hammering the last three points of the match after the limping Lady Troopers erased an early six-point lead for a 1-0 slate in the round that will determine their seeding in the knockout semifinals.
“They played the way we expected them to play kasi ang tinitignan namin ngayon is how they’re going to respond doon sa mga pinaghandaan namin sa training. Kasi it’s more on the psychological side and mental toughness. Na-perform naman nila ngayon with a five set win naming,” said Foton coach Vilet Ponce De Leon.
Santiago and Rondina finished with 19 points each while skipper Angeli Araneta and Maika Ortiz added 13 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Tornadoes.
Rondina exploded with 17 kills and seven digs while Santiago smashed 11 spikes with a conference-high seven kill blocks for Foton, which avenged its first round loss to RC Cola-Army that lost Rachel Anne Daquis midway in the opening set.
Daquis walked off the court limping and never came back. Team physical therapist Alyssa Paula Tomas told reporters that Daquis hurt her left heel while jumping and felt something “pop”. Tomas said that they suspect a possible tear and scheduled her for a checkup Friday morning.
“Una ayaw namin na may ma-eliminate na tao para lang manalo kasi nasa game plan namin Rachel. Ready kami sa kanya and ‘yung position niya ‘yung pinag-aralan namin without her nga five sets pa rin kami. So marami pa on our side na problema so sa kanila hindi na namin tinitignan ‘yun,” she added.
Despite losing one of their leading scorer, veterans Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino and Nene Bautista carried the fight for the Lady Troopers to force a fifth set.
Foton raced to an early 9-3 lead before Army trimmed it to a three-point deficit from a Gonzaga off the block kill. Santiago took matters on her own hands to seal the win.
Gonzaga scored 22 points coming off 15 points and seven kill blocks with 22 receptions and seven digs for an all-around performance in a losing effort to the now 0-2 Army.
Tubino had 16 while Bautista finished with 15 for the Lady Troopers, who are on a three-game losing streak since the end of the first round.
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