BATANGAS CITY — Action in the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament resumes on Saturday at the Batangas City Sports Center here, with F2 Logistics out to boost its hopes of securing a final round berth against unpredictable Cignal.
Smarting from a stright-sets loss inflicted by streaking Petron last Thursday, the Cargo Movers (3-2) intend to get back on track in their 3 p.m. showdown with the fired-up HD Spikers (1-1) and close out their second-round campaign on a high note in this inter-club tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sports with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Clashing in the 1 p.m. opener are Petron (2-0) and New San Jose Builders (0-5), with the Tri-Activ Spikers, a two-time PSL champion, favored to sustain their charge over the free-falling Victorias.
With only the top three teams joining a guest squad from Thailand in the semifinals after the three-round classifications phase, F2 Logistics coach Rosemarie Prochina couldn’t stress hard enough the need for her wards to pull off a crucial win over Cignal, which is coming off an impressive 25-20, 25-19, 25-18 win over struggling New San Jose Builders late Thursday.
“This is our last game and this is our only chance to make the final round,” said Prochina. “Cignal is no easy foe. They are young, but already full of experience. We have to be at our best against them because they are our potential rival for a seat in the final round.”
After absorbing a four-set loss dealt by the Tri-Activ Spikers in their opener, the HD Spikers showed what they are capable of at the expense of the Victorias, with former St. Benilde star Jeanette Panaga tallying 16 points built around 10 kills, three blocks and as many services aces.
“The win was a morale-booster for us. At least medyo nabawasan ang stress at pressure namin,” said Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar. “Pero magiging crucial ang laban namin sa F2 (Logitistics) sa Sabado. Kailangan naming manalo sa kanila kasi tatlo lang ang pwedeng umakyat sa final round. So far, wala pang tumatalo sa (RC Cola) Army (3-0) at Petron.”
Aside from Panaga, the HD Spikers are expected to pin their hopes on Janine Navarro, veterans Michelle Laborte, Cherry Mae Vivas, Mary Grace Berte and former University of St. La Salle setter Aprise Rose Hingpit.
Standing on their way are the Cargo Movers led by former De La Salle University stars Aby Maraño, Cha Cruz and Paneng Mercado.
“In the end, it still depends on the character of the players if they want to win,” Acaylar said. “But for sure, magiging magandang laban ito.”
The pair of blockbuster matches marks the return of the inter-club tourney in this bustling province south of Metro Manila, having staged an explosive double-header at the De La Salle-Lipa Sentrum in Lipa City during the Grand Prix last year.
“The PSL has been a partner in our sports development program,” said board member Marvey Marino, chairman of youth and sports committee of the provincial council. “We welcome the league with open arms and we are looking forward to hosting more games like this.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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