Foton, Petron forge championship rematch
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 03, 2016 08:28 PM
Defending champion Foton marched into the Finals anew.
(The Arena, San Juan)
5:00 p.m. -– F2 Logistics vs RC Cola-Army
7:00 p.m. –- Foton vs Petron
LEGAZPI CITY -- Bitter rivals Foton and Petron booked a finals rematch as they dominated their respective foes in heart-stopping fashions in the semifinals of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday night at the jampacked Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.
The Tornadoes went through the wringer before escaping RC Cola-Army with a 23-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15, 15-7 victory while the Tri-Activ Spikers eked out an equally thrilling 25-23, 23-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-10 win against F2 Logistics to arrange a best-of-three finals duel.
Meanwhile, in the classification battle for 5th to 6th places of this league that also has F2 Logistics, Foton, Petron, KLab Cyscorpions and Focus Athletics as sponsors, Generika made quick work of Cignal, 25-10, 25-20, 27-25, to finish its campaign on a high note.
Game 1of the Finals is set this Thursday when the league returns to The Arena in San Juan.
Stephanie Niemer fired 30 attacks and six aces for 37 points, a production that nearly overshadowed the league’s conference-high 39 points in their first match against the Tornadoes last month.
Her support crew also stepped up with Aiza Maizo-Pontillas delivering 15 points while Serena Warner and Frances Molina finished with 12 points apiece for the Tri-Activ Spikers, who gained a chance to redeem themselves after losing to the Tornadoes in the finals last year.
On the same note, American Ariel Usher was also a force to be reckoned with in the third and fourth sets as she erupted for 15 kills, five blocks and two aces for a total of 22 points for the Tornadoes, who started the game on the wrong foot that allowed the Lady Troopers to seize control and gain an early momentum.
Jaja Santiago finished with 14 points while Lindsay Stalzer had 14 hits, much to the delight of Foton coach Moro Branislav who earlier tagged this semifinal showdown as the “real battle” among four of the best club teams in the country today.
“I’m happy for my team that they finished strong for us to enter in the finals,” said the Serbian coach, who is looking to steer the Tornadoes back to the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship that would be held in Kazakhstan next year.
“RC Cola-Army is such a difficult team to beat. They always play good when they know they’re in a big battle. I have high respect for this team.
True enough, what was tipped to be a cakewalk for the topseed Tornadoes turned into a full-blown war as the Lady Troopers showed up prepared and ready to pull off an earthshaking upset.
RC Cola-Army took control of the first two sets before threatening as it knotted the count at 18 in the third set. But Usher responded with three straight kills as Foton gained the set point, 24-21, to stretch the match into another set.
It was an all-Foton show from there as RC Cola-Army ran out of gas for a 15-25 setback in the fourth set. The Lady Troopers regrouped and tried to mount a rally in the deciding set with a 5-8 deficit, but Santiago and Usher waxed hot anew to seal the victory.