Bitter rivals Petron and F2 Logistics seek to book another finals duel while Cignal and PLDT Home Fibr fight for survival in Game 2 of their Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three semifinal series today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Blaze Spikers clash with the HD Spikers at 4:15 p.m. while the Cargo Movers tackle the Power Hitters in the 7 p.m. featured encounter of this prestigious women’s club league that is bankrolled by Asics, Mueller, Mikasa, Senoh, Team Rebel Sports, Bizooku, UCPB Gen, Cocolife, Hotel Sogo and Data Project.
After blowing hot and cold, F2 Logistics regained its championship form down the stretch to pull off a masterful 25-14, 17-25, 25-16, 25-22 victory over the Power Hitters in Game 1 of this series that has ESPN5 and 5Plus as technical sponsors.
Two-time Most Valuable Player awardee Lindsay Stalzer restored order in the third set before unleashing a flurry of clutch hits in the crucial stretch to lift the Cargo Movers out of trouble and into the brink of another finals appearance.
“She got frustrated in the second set,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus. “But I told her to remain focussed because we need her maturity and leadership down the stretch. It woke her up and she started to play well in the third set.”
But all eyes will be on Petron.
After suffering their second set loss of the season, the Blaze Spikers displayed their ability to bounce back as imports Katherine Bell and Stephanie Niemer caught fire in the second set en route to an impressive 20-25, 25-14, 25-13, 25–18 win.
Bell and Niemer pumped in 24 points apiece to put Petron one win away from making it to their 13th finals appearance and three straight wins away from sweeping the tournament.
Head coach Shaq Delos Santos, however, said they are marching into Game 2 with high morale, especially after seeing his wards bouncing back from a rusty start in Game 1.
“I think losing a set is part of the game. The important thing is how you reacted and how you bounced back after that loss,” said Delos Santos, whose wards dropped only one set in their campaign in the classification phase and quarterfinals.
“Starting slow was expected since we came out from a very long break, 17 days, I think. But it’s good that we managed to recover. At least I saw how the girls adjusted to this kind of pressure-packed situation.”
Should the Blaze Spikers and Cargo Movers emerge victorious, they will open another chapter of their storied rivalry that dates back to the All-Filipino Conference of 2017 when Petron dethroned reigning champion F2 Logistics.
But it wouldn’t be easy.
The HD Spikers are also raring to stay alive and stretch the game to a rubber match on Saturday.
They have a veteran coach in Edgar Barroga and an explosive core of Erica Wilson, Ana Artemeva, Rachel Anne Daquis and Mylene Paat with seasoned libero Jheck Dionela manning the backline.
“It’s a no-tomorrow contest so we will go there and play our hearts out,” said Barroga, looking to become the first coach to deal Petron its first loss of the season.
“Good things happen when you play with nothing to lose. We’re hungry. We want to stay alive and we will do everything to win on Thursday.”