By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Defending champion Foton bucked a slow start in downing Sta. Lucia Realty, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17, yesterday and advancing to the semifinals of the 2017 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Tornadoes struggled defensively against the hard-hitting Lady Realtors before regaining their composure in the next three frames to inch closer to retaining their crown.
Import Sara Klisura fired 23 points on 20 kills and three blocks for Foton, whose victory arranged a Final Four meeting with bitter rival Petron – the same foe they beat in the finals last year.
“It’s a difficult game (today) against a good team. This is probably the best defense that Sta. Lucia played and we’re just glad that we won against them,” said Foton’s Serbian coach Moro Branislav.
Jaja Santiago also stepped up with 21 points, including 16 attacks and three aces as the Tornadoes dominated the Lady Realtors in all fronts, particularly in offense with 62 hits to Sta. Lucia’s 53.
Foreign reinforcement Dragana Perunicic and Maika Ortiz contributed 12 points each, while CJ Rosario and Ivy Perez added eight and six points, respectively.
Sta. Lucia had a chance to take the momentum in the third when it got to an early lead. But Foton caught up and closed the gap at 18-all before regaining the upper hand.
Bohdana Anisova led Sta. Lucia with 21 points – all from the attack line – but her efforts were insufficient to douse Foton’s fire.
Pam Lastimosa scored 12 points and Marisa Field and MJ Phillips finished 10 points each in a losing effort.