Foton Pilipinas falls to Vietnam in thriller

Mark Escarlote on Sep 04, 2016 05:47 PM
Foton Pilipinas falls to Vietnam in thriller
Foton Pilipinas' Jovelyn Gonzaga's attack was denied by Vietnam's tight net defense.

BIÑAN CITY --- Foton Pilipinas squandered a 2-1 match lead and felt the absence of injured import Lindsay Stalzer as the Tornadoes dropped a tight 18-25, 25-19, 25-20, 12-25, 8-15, loss to Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank-Vietnam on Sunday in Pool A of the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena here.        

The depleted Tornadoes played without one of its American imports with Stalzer out because of a back spasm but still managed to go up by a set behind reinforcement Ariel Usher, Jovelyn Gonzaga and 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago before collapsing in the fourth and in the closing stretch of the fifth to slide to 1-1 win-loss record.

Even with the loss Foton Pilipinas will advance in the quarterfinals.

Team captain Do Thi Minh led Vietnam with 29 points coming from 22 kills, five kill blocks and a pair of aces. Tran Thi Thao had 13 markers while Tran Ton Nu Ly Ninh finished with 12 for Vietnam, which will face Hong Kong on Monday.

The Vietnamese rained down 58 attack points, five more than Foton Pilipinas' and had 15 kill blocks overall.

The Tornadoes failed to sustain their blistering performance and head coach Fabio Menta knew the reason.

“Maybe we got soft in the fourth set,” lamented the Italian coach, who in the first set tweaked his lineup by putting Gonzaga as an open spiker while pulling Usher as an opposite and starting Maika Ortiz to help in the middle with Santiago and Abigail Marano. “Vietnam is the more disciplined team in the fourth.”

“Down, 2-1, they only have one choice. They only have to play hard,” he added. “We knew they are coming back hard. We gave them a chance and slowly we collapsed.”

Vietnam evened the match with a strong performance in the fourth set after Foton Pilipinas behind the boisterous crowd claimed the second and third frame in a dominating fashion.

With momentum on their side, the Vietnamese blasted a finishing 7-1 spurt after a tight 8-7 lead midway in the deciding frame.

Usher registered 20 points including 15 spikes for the Tornadoes, Gonzaga had 16 while Santiago scored 13.

A win by Vietnam against Hong Kong, which Foton Pilipinas swept Saturday, will put the Tornadoes as no. 2 seed in the quarterfinals against the no. 1 team in Pool C. A win by Hong Kong will give Foton the top seed.




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