IMUS CITY — A highly-crucial double-header gets underway as Foton and Cignal fight for survival against separate foes when the third round of the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament fires off Tuesday at the Imus Sports Complex.
The Toplander clash with RC Cola-Army at 4 pm while the HD Spikers battle Petron at 6 pm in a bid to keep their heads above water in this prestigious inter-club tourney sponsored by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Knotted at the third spot with an identical 1-2 win-loss card, Foton and Cignal need to sweep their remaining assignments to advance to the final round where the top three squads will challenge a topnotch team from Thailand for the title.
But should Foton and Cignal fall short, the cast of the final round will be formally completed with F2 Logistics joining unbeaten RC Cola-Army and Petron in the next round.
Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar knows the difficulty of the task but believes that nothing is impossible especially if they will do their homework and come up with a solid game plan on both ends of the floor.
“Medyo mahirap ang haharapin namin pero kakayanin namin yan,” said Acaylar shortly after surrendering a four-set defeat to the Cargo Movers over the weekend at the Batangas City Sports Complex in Batangas City.
“Alam naman natin na malakas ang Petron. Pero mas uhaw kami at handa kaming gawin ang lahat para makuha ang panalo. We’ll take it one game at a time. We will prepare hard and give them a very good fight.”
In their previous match against the Tri-Activ Spikers last week, the HD Spikers were impressive in the first set as they defended the net superbly leaving Petron attackers Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Maica Morada and Mina Aganon groping for form.
But their luck ran out in the next two sets as Petron caught fire before going for the kill in the fourth set to pull off a masterful 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 conquest.
“Nakita naman natin na maganda ang inilaro namin nung first set,” Acaylar added. “If we can sustain our energy and diminish our errors, we’ll have a very good chance. Petron is a good team so we have to play our best volleyball from start to finish.”
Also expected to go all out is Foton, the reigning Grand Prix champion who lost some of its gems to the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
After opening their season with a setbabck to the Lady Troopers, the Toplanders bounced back with a convincing victory over New San Jose Builders before closing the first round with another loss to the Cargo Movers.
“Our main problem is consistency,” said Foton coach Vilet Pionce-de Leon. “With the addition of Maika (Ortiz), Rhea (Dimaculangan) and Angeli (Tabaquero), we gained a lot of experience which we could use against other veteran teams, especially RC Cola-Army. We just have to be more consistent both on offense and defense.”
Aside from the Ortiz, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero, stars who carried University of Santo Tomas to a sterling finish in the UAAP few years ago, also expected to carry the fight for the Toplander are Patty Jane Orenadin, Angeli Araneta and hard-hitting open spiker Dana Henson.
They are expected to counter the power of the Lady Troopers led by Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo, Nene Bautista and former Most Valuable Player Rachel Anne Daquis.
March 15 (Tuesday)
4:00 PM – RC Cola Army vs. Foton Toplander (Live on AksyonTV, TV5)
6:00 PM – Petron Tri-Activ Spikers vs. Cignal HD Spikers (Live on AksyonTV)
General Admission Php 200 – Free Seating (all areas)