Foton survives series opener, one win away from repeat

Mark Escarlote on Dec 08, 2016 10:37 PM
Foton survives series opener, one win away from repeat
Foton showed grit as the Tornadoes moved a win closer from a repeat crown.

Defending champion Foton clawed its way back from two sets down to carve out a come-from-behind, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-9 win Thursday night in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series of the 2016 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan.

The Tornadoes inched a step closer for a repeat crown at the expense of the same rival, which Foton defeated for the third straight time after sweeping the Tri-Activ Spikers in two meetings in the preliminary round.

But Foton needed a huge rally in the fifth set to escape with the pivotal victory. Down 3-8 in the deciding frame the Tornadoes dropped a blinding 12-1 closing blitz capped by Angeli Araneta's soft push to the back row that Petron American import Stephanie Niemer failed to control to steal the match.  

"At this moment (after five sets) Foton is the better team," said Foton's Serbian coach Moro Branislav. "We didn't start good and that gave Petron a chance (to take an early lead)." 

American import Lindsay Stalzer scattered 30 points with 26 coming off kills while Ariel Usher got 19 markers for the Tornadoes, who had a injury scare in midway in the second set when 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago hurt her right foot after stepping on another player's foot going down from a block attempt. Santiago returned to action to finish the match and scored seven.  

"It’s amazing that we came back and I guess we just got over our nerves, I think," Stazer said. "I don’t know why we’re nervous because I know we’re a good team, we finally showed it in the third, fourth and fifth set."

Game 2 is on Saturday at the PhilSports Arena. If necessary, Game 3 is on December 13 at The Arena.

Niemer finished with a game-high 32 points including 26 kills while American Serena Warner and Ces Molina scored 10 each for Petron. 




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