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Foton barges into win column


Foton Pilipinas finally discovered its rhythm as it crushed Rangsit University, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20, to barge into the win column of the 2016 Select Tuna Thailand Volleyball League Friday at the Wi Sommai gymnasium in Sisaket Province, Thailand.

American Lindsay Stalzer was brilliant offensively while the rest of the Tornadoes took care of the defensive end to coast to an easy win in this prestigious tourney that serves as appetizer for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship from September 3 to 11 at the Alonte Sports Center in Binan City.

Stalzer fired 27 hits while fellow import Ariel Usher had 14 markers, bulk of which coming in the first two sets, giving Italian coach Fabio Menta the luxury of pulling her out in the third to give valuable exposure to Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure.

Two rising stars from University of Santo Tomas, Rondina and Laure finished the job together with an all-Filipino crew of Rhea Dimaculangan, Patty Orendain, Aby Marano and Maika Ortiz, who carried the offensive chore in the deciding set with seven hits.

“I did give playing time to Laure and Rondina, our future stars, and I need to see them with the responsibility of winning a game with no ‘outside help,’” said Menta following the match that they controlled from start to finish.

“The team feels strong and motivated. We are not talking anymore about the concept and philosophy of the game like in our first training, but we now analyze details and correlations.”

Menta added that he fielded Stalzer and Usher sparingly to give maximum exposure to the local players, who will banner the team in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix starting October.

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“I wanted Filipino players to gain maximum international exposure,” he added. “So for the first two sets, I played with one import at a time; Stalzer in the first and Usher in the second.”

“We knew that this is a game that the key was in forcing services; so our eight aces proved it. The girls had instruction to force all attacks and not to play dinks or easy overs.”

It was the Tornadoes’ first win after a three-set loss to home team PEA Sisaket, which is bannered by national team members Pleumjit Thinkaow and Nootsara Tomkom, followed by a four-set meltdown to Asian champion Bangkok Glass to finish Group A with a 1-2 card. The top two teams in Groups A and B will advance to the semifinals.

Foton Pilipinas will be facing Kasetsart University early Saturday morning for a victory that would send it to the battle for 5th to 6th places.

“Our enemy tomorrow is waking up at 5:45 am, breakfast at 6:15 am, warm up at 7:15 am and game at 8 am,” Menta said. “But other than that, we will go for the kill.”

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