Loaded Cocolife and Foton gun for the remaining semifinal berths when they battle separate foes in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix April 17 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Bannered by new import Marta Drpa, the Asset Managers will face Cignal at 4:15 pm while the Tornadoes parade two new players when they clash with Sta. Lucia Realty in the 7 pm featured encounter of this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Prior to that, this league that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors will pay a special tribute to Gyselle Silva, who is set to leave Manila later in the day.
Silva, power-hitting Cuban reinforcement of Smart, will be honored with a plaque and a special jersey for erupting for a league-record 56 points during Smart’s five-set loss to Cocolife last Apr. 7 at the Batangas City Sports Center.
The 26-year old former national team member put the PSL on the world volleyball map as her incredible feat emerged third in world scoring record behind the 58 points of Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan in 2015 and 57 points of Madison Kingdon of United States and Elitsa Vasileva of Bulgaria in 2017 and 2013 respectively.
The Giga Hitters bombed out of the tourney after failing to come up with a single win in 10 matches in the classifications before losing to reigning champion F2 Logistics in straight sets in the quarterfinals.
Petron also punched a ticket to the semifinals as it downed Generika-Ayala in four sets in the other quarterfinal battle over the weekend.
But all eyes will be on Foton as it tapped college stars Diana Carlos and Isa Molde to help imports Channon Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago and Elizabeth Wendel of Canada to carry the scoring cudgels.
After leading University of the Philippines in scoring with 19.5 points per game, Carlos will be formally making her PSL debut while Molde will be coming in as replacement to middle blocker Gen Casugod, who suffered a left knee injury in training.
“Tots (Carlos) is part of our lineup while Isa is on our reserve list,” said Foton team manager Diane Santiago, whose younger sister, Jaja, is also set to suit up pending the outcome of National University’s campaign in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
“Since Gen suffered a knee injury and is still doing strength and conditioning training, we gave her slot to Isa for this very crucial stretch of the tournament. We’re very optimistic that Isa and Tots can contribute right away.”
Foton head coach John Abella believes the race to the semifinals is wide-open, especially with Sta. Lucia slowly reaching its peak.
In fact, after an earth-shaking straight set win over erstwhile unbeaten Petron, the Lady Realtors closed their campaign with a four-set conquest of Smart, giving them high morale as they march into the next round.
“Our locals are starting to step up,” said Pascua, adding that imports Bohdana Anisova of Ukraine and Marisa Field and Kristen Monks of Canada are now playing very well with local stars MJ Philips, Rebecca Rivera, Micmic Laborte and Pam Lastimosa.
“Hopefully, we could sustain it. Foton is such a tough foe. We have to be consistent in setting our attacks and stay focused down the stretch.”
Apr 17 #pslgrandprix Games Tue @FilOilSanJuan
3pm Free entrance for first 100 people
4pm Ceremony for Gyselle Silva
415pm Cocolife vs Cignal
7pm Foton vs Sta. Lucia
P150 at gate or SM Tickets. Both games live on ESPN5 and Cignal’s HYPER