Foton Pilipinas showed the fighting heart of the everyday Pinoy, fighting through disappointment, injuries, and controversial schedules.
Sporting a complete lineup only for the second time in the tournament, Foton Pilipinas stayed close but could not finish off Altay VC in crucial moments.
The hosts surrendered a tight straight-set decision 25-27, 18-25, 21-25 in the second group phase of the ABC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
American import Lindsay Stalzer, who was forced to sit out Foton’s last two games, gave her team a much-needed boost to open the match. Stalzer sizzled and led Pilipinas to a 16-11 heading into the second technical timeout. But the Kazaks nibbled the deficit, getting Foton’s lead down to two, 16-14, after consecutive kills then taking the lead latex, 23-22, after costly Foton attack errors. The hosts kept themselves in the set as substitute setter Ivy Perez opted to siphon their attack through team captain Jaja Santiago. The 6’6” middle hitter delivered, knotting the set at deuce twice. But Jovelyn Gonzaga served long to give Kazakstan a 26-25 advantage setting up Lindsay Stalzer’s wide attack that ended the frame.
The second frame was close until Altay VC made a mid-set run. Ahead 16-14, the Kazaks scorer five straight points to put the set out of reach. Foton looked out of the match in the third set but a late salvo gave Altay VC a scare. Trailing 14-18, Foton rallied behind Lindsay Stalzer and Jaja Santiago. Altay VC’s lead dwindled down to two, 21-23, after a red card was slapped on their coach for excessive complaining. But that was as near as Foton got as Altay VC ticked off the last two points through attacks.
Stalzer scored 11 points in her return while her fellow American import Ariel Usher and Jaja Santiago each provided 10 points.
“Today we lost, but we lost well so I’m quite satisfied. Going into the game there were a lot of questions marks and I’m glad we had a full lineup. I like the way we fought and we executed better today,” said Foton’s Italian head coach Favio Menta.
Open hitter Sanar Aekulova towed Altay VC with 16 points, Inna Matteyeva had 11, and Vanya Varbonova pitched in 10.
Foton (0-3) will face the winner of the Ba’Yi Shenzeng-Bangkok Glass tiff in Group F in the knockout quarterfinals on Friday.
Altay VC (3) – Anarkulova 16, Matveyeva 11, Varbanova 10, Safronova 8, Aizharikhova 7, Biryukova 3, Spelman 2, Santos 2, Lukomskaya 0, Ezau (L)
Foton (0) – Stalzer 11, Santiago 10, Usher 10, Gonzaga 5, Maraño 3, Perez 3, Ortiz 1, Dimaculangan 0, Reyes (L)