F2 Logistics defeat Petron to claim PSL Grand Prix title

F2 Logistics essayed a fitting finale to its storied journey as it hammered a 25-20, 25-19, 20-25, 25-18 victory over Petron to formally claim the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix title before a roaring weekend crowd last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Veteran Cha Cruz stepped up, delivering crucial hits early on to rally the Cargo Movers to a historic finish in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Mikasa, Mueller, Grand Sport, Senoh, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

With the win, the Cargo Movers became the first team to complete a successful rebound from a 0-1 disadvantage since the best-of-three finals format was implemented a couple of years ago.

It was also their second crown since ruling the 2015 All-Filipino Conference of this tourney that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.

But more than anything, it was a personal feat for import Maria Jose Perez, who took home the Most Valuable Player award over other fancied guest players like teammate Kennedy Bryan, Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of Petron and Sara Klisura of Foton, who set a record-breaking 41 points.

The Serbian Klisura, for her part, was awarded as Best Scorer to join Perez, Hurley (1st Best Outside Spiker), Stalzer (2nd Best Outside Spiker), Mika Reyes (1st Best Middle Blocker), Majoy Baron (2nd Best Middle Blocker), Kim Fajardo (Best Setter), Jaja Santiago (Best Opposite), Kianna Dy (Best Opposite), Dawn Macandili (Best Libero) and Yuri Fukuda (2nd Best Libero) in the podium.

“Actually, she’s nursing a broken heart after the passing of her older brother yesterday,” said F2 Logistics head coach Ramil de Jesus, admiring the professionalism of his Venezuelan reinforcement.

“But she hardly showed any emotion. She played great and she led us to this victory.

Cruz, the anchor of the De La Salle University squad that erected a dynasty in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), delivered 13 kills and three aces to finish with 16 points while Perez spearheaded the attack with 24 kills.

With Cruz moving to the open spiker spot and Kennedy Bryan taking the cudgels at the opposite, which is her original position, the Cargo Movers were simply unstoppable in the first two sets.

The Blaze Spikers’ blocking and offensive execution finally sprung back to life in the third set with American import Hillary Hurley engineering a furious rally, turning a slim 17-18 deficit into a 24-20 lead en route to a 25-20 set win.

But the Cargo Movers refused to give up.

Knowing that the Blaze Spikers are capable of mounting a comeback, Cruz and Perez conspired, erecting a 20-13 lead, leaving the Blaze Spikers running out of gas.

“We know Petron as a very talented team. They have so many weapons,” said de Jesus, stressing that it was a sweet revenge for them after surrendering to Petron in the All-Filipino last July.

“That’s why it’s a sweet victory for us. We made some adjustments and they failed to respond. We also made some key defensive stops that led us to this win.”

Hurley brushed off the sprained ankle she suffered in Game 2 to carry the fight with 22 kills and two blocks for Petron, which nearly clinched the crown had it sustained its hot start in Game 2 of this nerve-wracking best-of-three title series.

The presence of Stalzer, on the other hand, was hardly felt as she tallied only nine markers, no thanks to the solid defense employed by the Cargo Movers.

Foton gets consolation bronze in SuperLiga

Reigning champion Foton salvaged some measure of pride as it pulled off a 25-17, 25-16, 25-17 victory over Cocolife to cop the bronze medal of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix yesterday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The troika of Jaja Santiago, Sara Klisura and Dragana Perunicnic again made its presence felt, lifting the Tornadoes to a strong finish in this tourney.

Hopes were high on the Tornadoes at the start of the conference.

They sliced through the single-round eliminations with a 7-1 win-loss mark, but had to yield the first and second spots in the quarterfinals to F2 Logistics and Petron due to superior quotient.

But they ran into a red-hot Petron side in the semifinals, absorbing a four-set loss that sent them crashing out of title contention for the first time in three years in this season-ending conference.

The Blaze Spikers went on to challenge the Cargo Movers in a best-of-three title showdown.

Still, Foton head coach Moro Branislav lauded his wards for a job well done.

“It’s okay. That’s volleyball, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” said Branislav, the Serbian mentor who led Foton to the gold medal last year.

“There are three good teams in this league– F2 Logistics, Petron and Foton. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished and coming up with a podium finish is good than having nothing at all.”

Like Foton, it was also a good performance for the Asset Managers.

They made their PSL debut in the Invitational Conference where they finished seventh before moving up the ladder with a fifth-place finish in the All-Filipino Conference.

Cocolife may have failed to win any medal, but a fourth-place performance is already an achievement for a young and emerging squad.

Santiago spearheaded the assault with 10 kills, four blocks and three aces for 17 points while Klisura and Perunicnic submitted 13 and 11 markers in their farewell performance this conference.

The Tornadoes also ruled the attack zone, 40-34, and displayed better defense at the net, 8-0, and the service box, 8-2.

Reinforcement Tai Manu-Olevao delivered 16 kills while Taylor Milton had 10 hits for the Asset Managers, who displayed a gallant stand despite facing a powerful, seasoned Foton.

Powerhouse Petron humbles Cocolife in 3 sets in PSL Grand Prix

Heavyweight Petron unleashed torrid attacks before watching Cocolife crumble in the crucial stretch to score a 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 victory in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.  

Lindsay Stalzer delivered the goods, lifting the Blaze Spikers to another easy victory in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

The win gave Petron a share of lead with idle Foton at 7-1.

But its chances of clinching the top spot in the sudden-death quarterfinals appear nil as F2 Logistics will gain superior quotient provided that it clobbers struggling Iriga City in the final day of eliminations on Saturday.

Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos said they are ready to take the second spot and face the seventh seed in the next round that starts on Tuesday.

“Based on our calculation, if F2 Logistics will win over Iriga City on Saturday, we will take the second spot in the quarterfinals,” said Delos Santos, who steered the Blaze Spikers to the All-Filipino title earlier this year.

“That’s the importance of our victory today. We will go to the quarterfinals with high morale and ready for battle,” he said.

Stalzer, the Most Valuable Player of this battle that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner two years ago, fired 11 kills, three blocks and two aces for 16 points while carrying the cudgels in the deciding set to keep Petron within striking distance, 18-20.

Hillary Hurley scored on a block and a kill to knot the count before Frances Molina unleashed a powerful hit from the open spot to grab the lead, 21-20.

Cocolife reinforcement Tai Manu-Olevao tied the game at 21, but she committed an attack error followed by another error by Wensh Tiu and another by Lutgarda Malaluan that gave the Blaze Spikers the match point, 24-21.

Then, Molina converted on a well-executed combination play to seal the victory.

“I told the team that they should not underestimate the opponent,” said Delos Santos, whose wards were given 25 extra points off the errors by the Asset Managers.

“So far, we’re not thinking of anything yet – not even the semis. Our eyes are set on finishing strong and winning the quarterfinals because at this point, one miss and you’re out. We don’t want to fall into that.”

Manu-Olevao tallied 15 attacks and an ace for 16 points for the Asset Managers, who finished the eliminations with a 3-5 win-loss card.

Their fate in the quarterfinals, however, still depends on the outcome of the matches between Generika-Ayala and Sta. Lucia later in the day, as well as on the Cignal and Victoria Sports-UST game on Saturday.

PSL tweaks 2018 calendar to comply with FIVB, AVC schedules

In compliance with the new competition calendar of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), the Philippine Superliga (PSL) will make significant changes in its own calendar for 2018.

From late October to mid-December, the most prestigious club league in the country will move its import-flavored Grand Prix as its season-opener from Feb. 17 to May 17, followed by the Challenge Cup beach volleyball tournament from May 26 to June 16.

The All-Filipino Conference will be held from July 28 to Nov. 15, but would take a break from Sept. 17 to 23 to give way for the 6th AVC Asian Cup for Women in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

The Invitational Conference is set from November to December, followed by another beach volleyball tournament to cap the year.

Also calendared is the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship from July 11 to 18 in Oskemen, Kazakhstan, where the league is set to send its All-Star team anew.

The calendar, however, would be subject to minor revisions depending on the actual implementation of the new international rules.

PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara said the league made a bold move of tweaking its calendar in compliance with those of the FIVB and the AVC, making it easier for the league to attract the world’s best foreign players for the Grand Prix as well as make their players available for international tournaments.

“The PSL is a staunch supporter of the plans and programs of the FIVB and the AVC,” said Suzara, who is also an FIVB member and the chairman of the powerful marketing and development committee of the AVC.

“We decided to tweak our calendar in compliance with the new international calendar. Since our Grand Prix is within the international transfer period, it would be easy for us to invite foreign players for the Grand Prix while making our players available for international competitions, too.”

Meanwhile, Sta. Lucia Realty guns for a crucial win to improve its ranking entering the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-PSL Grand Prix Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Lady Realtors collide with dangerous Generika-Ayala at 7 p.m. following the clash between Petron and Cocolife in the 4:15 p.m. first match of this prestigious club league bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

After posting a massive win over F2 Logistics over the weekend and another victory over Victoria Sports-UST late Tuesday, reigning champion Foton formally conquered the top spot in the team standing with a 7-1 mark.

Its reign, however, wouldn’t last long as close pursuers Petron and F2 Logistics are still on track of punching their seventh victory in the final two playdates of the single round eliminations of this tourney that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.

Sta. Lucia, meanwhile, is tied with idle Iriga City in sixth spot with a 2-5 card, making it desperate for a victory that will improve its ranking and avoid facing the top seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal battle starting Dec. 5.

Sta. Lucia snaps 2-game skid with 5-set win over Cocolife in PSL

Sta. Lucia Realty stormed back with a strong kick after a sluggish start to escape with a thrilling 23-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-23, 15-7 victory over Cocolife in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Tuesday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

With imports Bohdana Anisova and Marisa Field rediscovering their rhythm, the Lady Realtors were unstoppable in the crucial stretch to capture the win in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

The Lady Realtors snapped their two-game losing streak with a 2-5 win-loss card, putting them in a perfect position to avoid the top seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal showdown.

Sta. Lucia coach Jerry Yee said while their goal is to win as many games as possible, it would be great if they would avoid the top seed, which could be F2 Logistics, Petron or reigning champion Foton.

“We want to fight until the end,” said Yee, whose wards will be facing Generika-Ayala to cap their campaign in the eliminations. “As much as possible, we want to avoid the top seed in the quarterfinals.”

Anisova erupted for 29 kills, four aces and two blocks to finish with game-high 35 points while Field chipped in 20 markers for the Lady Realtors, who fought back from two sets down to capture the victory.

A prized recruit from Ukraine, Anisova was impressive in the crucial stretch of the deciding set where the Lady Realtors turned a 7-5 lead into a 13-6 advantage.

Tai Manu-Olevao tried to pump life into the Asset Managers with a powerful kill from the back row, but Anisova connected on a beautifully placed shot before Field and Pam Lastimosa thwarted the attack of Nene Bautista to seal the victory.

Manu-Olevao had 30 kills while fellow import Taylor Milton and Nene Bautista delivered 13 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Asset Managers, who joined Cignal and Generika-Ayala at the fourth spot with a 3-4 card.

Sta. Lucia claws back from 2 sets down to win over Cocolife

Sta. Lucia Realty stormed back to a strong finish after a sluggish start to escape with a thrilling 23-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-23, 15-7 victory over Cocolife in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix last Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

With imports Bohdana Anisova and Marisa Field finding their rhythm, the Lady Realtors were unstoppable in the crucial stretch to capture the win.

They snapped their two-game losing streak with a 2-5 win-loss card, putting them in a perfect position to avoid the top seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal showdown.

Sta. Lucia coach Jerry Yee said that while their goal is to win as many games as possible, it would be great if they would avoid the top seed, which could be F2 Logistics, Petron or reigning champion Foton.

“We want to fight until the end,” said Yee, whose wards will be facing Generika-Ayala to cap their campaign in the eliminations. “As much as possible, we want to avoid the top seed in the quarterfinals.”

Anisova erupted for 29 kills, four aces and two blocks to finish with game-high 35 points while Field chipped in 20 markers for the Lady Realtors, who fought back from two sets down to capture the victory.

A prized recruit from Ukraine, Anisova was impressive in the crucial stretch of the deciding set where the Lady Realtors turned a 7-5 lead into a 13-6 advantage.

Tai Manu-Olevao tried to pump life into the Asset Managers with a powerful kill from the back row, but Anisova connected with a beautifully placed shot before Field and Pam Lastimosa thwarted the attack by Nene Bautista to seal the victory.

F2 Logistics faces Foton as PSL action moves to Batangas

BATANGAS CITY – Foton takes on undefeated F2 Logistics in a clash of titans on Saturday in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at the Batangas City Sports Center here.

Action starts at 6 pm with the Tornadoes looking to come up with a morale-boosting win and a share of leadership in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

Also seeing action in this tournament that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner is another heavyweight in Petron, which will battle Iriga City in the 4 pm appetizer.

The Cargo Movers remain on top of the team standings with an immaculate 6-0 win-loss card followed by Foton and Petron, who are just one game behind entering the final stretch of the single-round eliminations.

Finishing on top will be very crucial as the highest-ranking side will take on the eighth seeded team.

The second seed will clash with the seventh seed; the third seed will battle the sixth seed; and the fourth seed will face the fifth seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal encounter on Dec. 5.

The survivors in the quarters will move on to the semifinals to determine the protagonists in the best-of-three finals showdown.

F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus admitted that while emerging on top of the eliminations is their ultimate goal, he knows the road will be tough, especially with the two-time champion Foton blocking their path.

“Playing Foton will be very tough,” said de Jesus, admitting that their early peak might be counter-productive to their title campaign.
“I’m quite worried because we’re always winning. I’m not saying that we want to lose, but losses will bring out the character of my team. We haven’t experienced that. So if we’re going to lose, I want it to happen early so we will have time to recover and make some adjustments right away.”

But with the way they are playing, the Cargo Movers appear invincible.

 

Iriga City snaps 4-game skid with 3-set win over Victoria Sports-UST

Rookie team Iriga City finally snapped its losing skein after clobbering Victoria Sports-UST, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Serbian Tamara Kmezic was at her best, towing the Lady Oragons back to winning track after four consecutive setbacks in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

With the win, the Iriga City is now fashioning a 2-4 win-loss slate, giving it a handsome chance to avoid the top seed in the sudden-death quarterfinals on Dec. 5 in this battle that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner.

The Lady Oragons, however, will still be facing heavyweights Petron and F2 Logistics while their closest pursuer – Sta. Lucia Realty – has to prevail over Cignal, Cocolife and Generika-Ayala to avoid claiming the eighth seed.

The Lady Realtors are still playing Cignal as of press time.

“We need this victory to boost our ranking in the quarterfinals,” said Iriga City coach Parley Tupas, whose wards finally nailed a victory after a month of frustration.

“We want to come up with a strong finish (in the eliminations) and prepare for the quarterfinals where we would probably be facing top teams like Petron, F2 Logistics and Foton. Our last two matches against Petron and F2 Logistics will be very crucial.” 

Kmezic, the league’s tallest import at 6-foot-7, wreaked havoc at the offensive end, delivering 17 attacks, two aces and a block while Janeca Lana and Japanese import Saama Miyagawa chipped in nine and seven markers, respectively.

Tupas said Lana is now filling the void created by Grethcel Soltones, who was slapped with a one-year ban after playing in an exhibition match that was not sanctioned by the league.

Although Lana’s contribution was far from Soltones’ production, Tupas said they would still gladly take it.

“She replaced Soltones in our rotation. She’s the youngest in the team so I’m giving him exposure,” he said, admitting that they are missing Soltones and her experience when the game is on the line.

“She’s a big help to us. We lost around 12 points a game,” he said. “But we can’t do anything about it. Rules are rules. We just have to move on and look forward to having a strong finish.”

Cignal tries to arrest skid, faces struggling Sta. Lucia in PSL

Cignal tries to check its skid when it battles Sta. Lucia Realty Thursday in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Action erupts at 7 p.m. following the battle between struggling Iriga City and Victoria Sports-UST in the 4:15 first match of this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

Although armed with a loaded roster, things are looking gloomy for the HD Spikers in this league that also has Gold’s Gym and Gerflor as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner.

They have lost three of their past four games, with the previous setback coming from F2 Logistics, 22-25, 13-25, 12-25, late Tuesday.

In that match, the HD Spikers came out firing in the first set, before wilting under the hot defense of the Cargo Movers in the second and third sets en route to another painful setback.

F2 Logistics was so dominant defensively that nobody from Cignal emerged with double-digit scoring. The Cargo Movers were more superior at the attack zone, 38-27, as well as in the blocking (12-5) and service (6-3) departments.

Even worse, seasoned spiker Jovelyn Gonzaga crashed with a knee injury in the crucial stretch of the second set, prompting league officials and medical staff to rush her to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

Although doctors ruled out any fracture on her right knee, her health going into the match against the Lady Realtors remains doubtful.

“This is major challenge for us,” said Pascua, who is tipped to deploy Mylene Paat to fill the void created by Gonzaga’s injury. “This is the perfect time for us to step together and play as a team. We know Jovelyn really wants to win. She’s a fighter. We have to help her emotionally by winning this match for her.”

On the same note, the Lady Realtors will also be walking wounded.

Canadian import Marisa Field also suffered a knee injury in the third set of their match against Victoria Sports-UST.

Field’s injury, however, is not serious as she just needs to rest for only two weeks, including in their match against Foton over the weekend and against Cignal.

Sta. Lucia head coach Jerry Yee said Field’s absence is a major blow to the team, especially now that they are trying to come up with a strong finish in the elimination round to avoid heavyweights Petron, F2 Logistics and Foton in the sudden-death quarterfinals. 

“We will definitely miss Marisa’s presence,” said Yee, who is tipped to assign either Shirley Salamagos or Janine Navarro at the middle blocker spot, together with Filipino-American MJ Philips.

“But we have to move on and focus on our match against Cignal. Our locals have to step up if we want to get this victory.”

Generika-Ayala wallops woeful Victoria Sports-UST in PSL Grand Prix

Katarina Pilepic caught fire down the stretch to power Generika-Ayala to an easy conquest of Victoria Sports-UST, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Pilepic was unstoppable in the deciding set as the Lifesavers creamed the Tigresses in just 75 minutes of action in this prestigious club tourney sponsored by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

With the win, the Lifesavers climbed the team standing with a 3-4 win-loss mark, giving them a good chance of avoiding powerhouse teams Petron, F2 Logistics and two-time champion Foton in the sudden-death quarterfinal battles on Dec. 5.

“Our goal is to aim high,” said Generika-Ayala coach Francis Vicente, whose wards will enter their final elimination round game against Sta. Lucia Realty oozing with confidence.

“Whatever the result will be, our goal is to aim high. We will just prepare whoever will be our opponent in the quarterfinalsm,” he added.

A recruit from Croatia, Pilepic knocked down 18 kills, two blocks and two aces for a game-high 22 points while Chloe Cortez delivered nine points for the Lifesavers, who opted to give Darlene Ramdin a good rest.

Ramdin, a Trinidad and Tobago national team member, saw very limited action to finish with only six points as Angeli Araneta and Shaya Adorador got the lion’s share of the minutes at the wing spots.

“I don’t want our locals to lean more on our imports,” Vicente added. “I told them to just keep their focus and play their game.”

The Lifesavers were a picture of determination in the first two sets.

But in the third set, the college girls from University of Santo Tomas started to wax hot at the defensive end, giving the Lifesavers a hard time at the attack zone.

But with the match tied at 23, Pilepic connected on a hard kill before watching Dimdim Pacres commit an attack error at the other end.

“UST is improving every game,” said Vicente, whose squad dominated the Tigresses at the attacks (40-30), blocks (6-1) and service (7-6) departments. “Their reception was superb. This team will go far in the UAAP.”

Pacres nailed eight kills and two aces to finish with 10 points while Tin Francisco and Carla Sandoval had eight and seven markers, respectively, for the Tigresses, who absorbed their fifth straight setback.