By Kristel Satumbaga
(Malolos Sports and Convention Center)
3 p.m. – Petron vs Foton
5 p.m. – F2 Logistics vs Cignal
MALOLOS CITY – The big guns of local volleyball – Petron and F2 Logistics – seek to arrange a dream finals duel when they take on separate foes in the sudden death semifinals of the Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference Tuesday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center here.
After topping Group C with a perfect record, the Blaze Spikers shift their title quest to higher gear when they take on Foton at 3 p.m. while the Cargo Movers collide with Cignal in the 5 p.m. main encounter.
F2 Logistics, which finished the preliminaries with a 5-1 win-loss mark, is tipped to go all out as it welcomes the return of Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau, who missed five of their six matches due to an ankle injury.
In their previous 25-22, 25-15, 25-15 win over Sta. Lucia, Mau was impressive, delivering 11 points to compliment the Cargo Movers’ balanced attack featuring Ara Galang, Kianna Dy, Aby Maraño and Majoy Baron.
“Having Kalei back is a big advantage for us,” F2 Logistics head coach Ramil de Jesus said.
“Kalei gives us more options to executive our plays. She can score from all angles and her leadership inside the court was one of a kind.”
But advancing to the finals is easier said than done.
Cignal, a veteran team that shines under pressure, is tipped to dominate, especially after losing to F2 Logistics in a dramatic finals encounter in the All-Filipino Conference two months ago.
The HD Spikers finished the classification with a 5-1 card and the crew of Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mylene Paat and Alohi Robins-Hardy is bracing for an all-out war to make their way back to the finals.
“We fell short of winning the title last year so we will do everything to win this time,” said Cignal coach Edgar Barroga following a sorry five-set loss to Petron over the weekend.
“The adjustment period is over as we are already in the finals. We know F2 Logistics is such a solid team so we would do everything to pull off an upset.”
On the same note, Petron is also drawing motivation from that memorable setback last conference.
Setter Rhea Dimaculangan said the loss to Cignal in the semifinals was an eye-opener for them so they are doing everything to be at their every game.
“We are still licking that old wound,” said Dimaculangan, the former University of Santo Tomas star who will see action for the national women’s team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“We learned our lesson the hard way last conference. So we will play in the semifinals and try our best to make sure it won’t happen again.”
An all-star cast led by Sisi Rondina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Ces Molina, Denden Lazaro, and Dimaculangan will carry Petron in its redemption bid against the young Foton side led by EJ and Eya Laure, Shaya Adorador, Elaine Kasilag, and Mina Aganon.
Tags: Aby Marano, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Alohi Robins-Hardy, Ara Galang, Ces Molina, Denden Lazaro, EJ Laure, Elaine Kasilag, Eya Laure, F2 Logistics, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Kalei Mau, Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, Mina Aganon, Mylene Paat, Petron, Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference, Rachel Anne Daquis, Rhea Dimaculangan, Shaya Adorador, Sisi Rondina