Batangas City—Generika-Ayala displayed its championship form as it clobbered Smart in straight sets, 25-16, 26-24, 25-22, to book the first semifinal ticket in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Thursday at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum here.
Mikaela Lopez came up big while Ria Meneses and Patty Orendain sizzled in the crucial stretch for the vastly-improved Lifesavers, who are making a return to the semifinals of this prestigious women’s club tourney after a long absence.
Lopez dominated the middle, finishing with 16 points built on 11 kills, four blocks and an ace while Meneses and Orendain flaunted their offensive brilliance with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
With the win, the Lifesavers will march to the semifinals against the survivor of the quarterfinal battle between F2 Logistics and Cocolife when this tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, Mikasa, Senoh, Asics, Mueller, UCPB Gen and Bizooku with Genius Sports as technical partner rolls back to Filoil Flying V Center tomorrow.
It will be Generika-Ayala’s first semifinal stint since the franchise won the All-Filipino title and emerged as runner-up to Petron in the Grand Prix of 2014.
But more than that, prevailing over Smart gave Generika-Ayala a different kind of satisfaction.
“This game was very important for us because we lost to Smart in the Invitationals,” said Lopez, speaking on behalf of head coach Sherwin Meneses. “And now that we’re here in the semifinals, we will go out fighting.”
Fiola Ceballos chipped in 11 points, including the game-winning ace that capped a searing run from a 20-22 deficit to seal the victory in 80 minutes of action.
After making short work of the Giga Hitters in the first set, the Lifesavers needed to survive a neck-and-neck battle in the second and third sets.
Smart almost equalized to one-set apiece, 24-23, in the second set, but back-to-back hits from Angeli Araneta and Lopez lifted Generika-Ayala before watching Gretchel Soltones commit an attack error to steal the set and erect a two-set lead.
The Lifesavers also went down in third set, 20-22, but they scored five straight points from back-to-back hits from Orendain and Lopez before the semis-clinching ace of Ceballos.
Jerrili Malabanan and Aiko Urdas had 13 and nine points, respectively, while Soltones struggled with three points despite having 21 excellent receptions and 17 digs for Smart, which closed its campaign in the preliminaries with four wins in 10 matches.