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The F2 Logistics Cargo Movers survived some scary moments down the stretch and completed a masterful, 25-18, 25-18, 27-25 victory over the Smart Prepaid Giga Hitters in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, Saturday evening at the Gen Trias Sports Center in Cavite.
Despite playing in a humid venue, imports Maria Jose Perez and Kennedy Bryan were still impressive, as they delivered the crucial blows that broke the hearts of the Giga Hitters.
With the win, F2 Logistics will face the survivor between the Foton Tornadoes and Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in a best-of-three semifinal series of this prestigious women’s club tourney.
Perez, the reigning Most Valuable Player, delivered 17 hits, while Bryan notched 15 kills and a block to finish with 16 points for the Cargo Movers, who effectively stopped Cuban sensation Gyselle Silva despite the absence of ace blocker Aby Maraño.
Silva, who erupted for a record-breaking 56 points last week, was held to only 25 points, while drawing very limited support from Serbian spiker Sanja Trivunovic and local hitters like Genie Sabas and LaRainne Fabay.
Trivunovic, Sabas, and Fabay combined for only 16 hits for the Giga Hitters, who committed 20 turnovers in the match, which lasted for one hour and 20 minutes.
Despite erecting an 8-1 lead after the first technical timeout of the third set, the Giga Hitters caught fire to steal the lead, 18-17, off a powerful backrow attack by Silva.
Smart managed to hang on in the crucial stretch, 25-25, before veteran Cha Cruz delivered a sharp kill from the open position, followed by a service ace that sealed the victory for the defending champions.
“The most challenging part of this win was the weather. I find it too hot so I have to save energy all throughout the game. Every time we have an intense rally, we have to breathe and save our energy because it was too hot here,” said Perez, referring to the hot weather that soared up to 36-37 degrees.
She added that Smart had pushed them to the limit, especially in the third sets, where Silva waxed hot and single-handedly towed the Giga Hitters back into the thick of things.
“Smart never gave up,” she said. “They always pushed us whenever we try to take the game away. And I think that’s a good thing for us.”
Smart, formed only two weeks before the opening ceremonies, closed their campaign without a win in 11 matches.
In the second game, the Petron Blaze Spikers clobbered the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22, to punch the second semifinal ticket.
American imports Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer were again impressive, as they carried bulk of the offensive load for the Blaze Spikers, who will march to the next round beaming with confidence.
Petron will face the winner between the Cocolife Asset Managers and the Cignal HD Spikers in the best-of-three semifinals.
Hurley tallied 18 hits, while Stalzer chipped in 17 markers for Petron, who are gunning for their first Grand Prix crown since winning it in 2014.
Darlene Ramdin delivered 12 points, but she drew very limited support from the rest of the Lifesavers, who kissed the tournament goodbye with three wins in 11 outings.