Foton rips UVC; Sta. Lucia triumphs in PSL opener
Foton averted disaster at the expense of United VC, carving out a 26-24, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21 decision in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix opener Saturday at Ynares Sports Arena.
American Courtney Felinski spearheaded the Tornadoes, with her 23 points on 19 attacks.
Former Turkish national player Selime Ilyasoglu also came up huge for Foton, completing an all-around performance of 19 markers and 14 digs.
“I’m very happy with how the girls played. Also, the imports were able to step up—especially down the stretch,” said Foton coach Aaron Velez.
“I’m surprised because in training, we don’t normally talk [to each other],” said Velez. “We just train hard.”
UVC banked on the performances of skipper Kalei Mau and import Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani in the third set to extend the match.
The Tornadoes found themselves trailing again early in the fourth, as United VC did everything to push them to the limit, even tying the set at 18.
But Ilyasoglu and Felinski came through, catching fire when it mattered most.
“Today the imports were able to jell properly with the team,” said Velez.
Bedart-Ghani delivered 23 and 14 digs while Mau registered 17 points for United but all that were put to naught by the poise showed by the two-time champions.
In the second game, Sta. Lucia, hoping to finally come out of its shell, showed the fruits of its heavy offseason buildup by outlasting Generika-Ayala, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 16-14.
American Casey Schoenlein came up with a crucial block to put the Lady Realtors at matchpoint before skipper Pamela Lastimosa sealed the win with an ace.
“It was a battle out there and any time you come out on top of something as close as that, it always feels good,” said Schoenlein, who chipped in 17 attack points and six blocks for Sta. Lucia.
The Lady Realtors took the match lead after three sets but came apart in the fourth behind a strong showing by the Lifesavers.
“We need to work on playing under high-pressure situations,” said Amanda Villanueva, one of the key acquisitions for Sta. Lucia in the offseason.
“That’s why this is a good experience for us to have our character tested,” said the former Adamson star, who made key contributions in the match with her five attack points and an ace.
Generika-Ayala will have an additional concern to look at after Niki del Rio exited the game with an apparent knee injury in the fifth set.
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