IT almost seems trite but the team that wanted it more, the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, bucked the odds to rule the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix.
The Cargo Movers weren’t event supposed to be in the finals. Defending champion Foton Tornadoes and the Petron Blaze Spikers were picked by most experts to contend for the crown with the Cignal HD Spikers as dark horse.
F2 bucked the odds to advance to the finals against Petron where they promptly dropped the first game. No team which trailed 0-1 in the Finals has gone on to win.
Petron was expected to take the crown but the Cargo Movers displayed tenacity and determination to post back-to-back victories, including a 3-1 decision before a roaring crowd last week at the Mall of Asia Arena, which gave them the PSL Grand Prix crown.
Veteran Cha Cruz, who helped build a De La Salle University dynasty in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines with his F2 coach Ramil De Jesus, stepped up for the Cargo Movers by delivering the key hits which propelled the team to victory.
Import Maria Jose Perez (the eventual Most Valuable Player), whose older brother passed away a day before the deciding contest, hardly showed any emotion to lead the team in scoring. But it was the heroics of Cruz which proved pivotal to the contest.
Moving team captain Cruz to the open spiker spot and transferring import Kennedy Bryan back to opposite, was the key move which propelled the Cargo Movers to rousing victories in the first two sets.
The new configuration allowed Kim Fajardo (awarded the league’s best setter) new options for attacks which the Blaze Spikers could not contain. Coach De Jesus said F2 made the adjustments while Petron could not adjust in time.
Petron made the match more interesting by snatching the third set. American import Hillary Hurley went on a tear to lead Petron which overhauled a slim 17-18 deficit to post a 25-20 set win.
But the Cargo Movers would not be denied as they went on to take the fourth set and win only their second PSL crown since the 2015 All-Filipino Conference.
The team’s other podium finishes were second for the 2017 PSL All Filipino Conference as well as third for the 2016 PSL Invitational Conference and the 2016 PSL Grand Prix.
Like all De Jesus-coached squads the Cargo Movers relied on their stonewall blocking at the net not only to contain the other team’s attacks but to score points from blocks. Majoy Baron (awarded second best middle blocker) and Aby Maraño terrorized opposing attackers with their belligerent defense at the net.
Lindsay Stalzer (chosen second best outside spiker) was reduced to a tentative, ineffective attacker leaving the Blaze Spikers looking for alternatives to score points. They couldn’t, which allowed F2 to register the hard-earned victory.
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