A question of energy
The Chooks to Go PSL Grand Prix volleyball tournament swings into playoff gear this week.
As the preliminary round smoke cleared, F2 Logistics emerged at the top of the heap and broke away from a tie at the top with the Foton Tornadoes and the Petron Blaze Spikers. But because of tournament rules where the winner over the other team prevails, the Cargo Movers took the top seed and will face the eighth placed Iriga City Oragons in the first playoff phase. Second seed Petron meets Generika, third placer Foton plays Sta.Lucia and fourth place finisher Cignal gets entangled with Cocolife. Playoff teams meet to knock each other out and then the winning four advance into the quarterfinals to determine the finalists.
F2, Petron and Foton have clear edges in manpower and chemistry and it hurts the other teams that the top three also acquired quality imports who have boosted their games. F2 has the prolific Venezuelan Olympian Maria Jose Gonzalez Perez and Kennedy Bryan; Petron has the veteran Lindsay Stalzer along with Hilary Hurley and the energetic libero Yuri Fukuda; and Foton has Sara Klisura, Dragana Perunicic and libero Katarina Vukomanovic.
The interesting battle is between the fourth and fifth placers, Cignal and Cocolife. It looks like a toss-up especially since Cignal will go without key players Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Dacquis. Gonzaga suffered a knee injury in a game against Foton while Dacquis had a bout with dengue. Their absence gives Cocolife some small avenue for success which they should capitalize on.
It will be critical for the lower ranked finishers to seal and steal sets from their more favored opponents. Teams playing at .500 and below have not finished higher because of an inability to close sets despite establishing early leads. The top teams simply know how to win even when they are behind. For them, a slight tweaking of defensive alignments or variations in offensive sets can make all the difference.
The Cargo Movers seem to have an energy edge going into the playoffs and this is what Foton and Petron will have to match down the road. Many F2 players are some years detached from their college teams but still play with a fire that’s often too hot to handle.
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