Knockout matches decide finalists
MALOLOS City—Petron and F2 Logistics, the most dominant teams in the Philippine Superliga, take on separate hungry foes Tuesday in the KO semifinals of the Invitational Conference at Malolos Sports and Convention Center here.
After topping Group C with a perfect 6-0 record, the Blaze Spikers shift their title quest to a higher gear when they take on Foton at 3 p.m., before the Cargo Movers collide with Cignal in the 5 p.m. game.
F2, which finished the preliminaries with a 5-1 card, welcomes back Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau, who missed five of their six matches due to an ankle injury.
In their previous 25-22, 25-15, 25-15 win over Sta. Lucia, Mau was impressive, delivering 11 points after being brought back into active duty.
Ara Galang, Kianna Dy, Aby Maraño and Majoy Baron will be the other key figures for the Cargo Movers.
“Having Kalei back is a big advantage for us,” F2 coach Ramil de Jesus said, adding that Mau gives them the versatility and a positive outlook they need for what looms to be another tight and grueling race for the crown.
“Kalei gives us more options to executive our plays. She can score from all angles and her leadership inside the court is one of a kind.”
But advancing to the finals is easier said than done.
Cignal, a veteran team that shines under pressure, wants payback more than anything else after losing the dramatic All-Filipino finals to F2 two months ago.
The HD Spikers finished the classification with a 5-1 card and the crew of Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mylene Paat and Alohi Robins-Hardy are bracing for an all-out war to make their way back to another title shot.
“We fell short of winning the title last year so we will do everything to win this time,” said Cignal coach Edgar Barroga following a sorry five-set loss to Petron over the weekend.
“The adjustment period is over as we already played in the finals. We know F2 Logistics is such a solid team so we would do everything to pull off an upset.”
On the same note, Petron is also drawing motivation from that memorable setback last conference, with setter Rhea Dimaculangan saying that it was an eye-opener for them.