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Foton dethrones Petron, earns first PSL title

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Peaking at the right time, the Foton Tornadoes ravaged the Petron Blaze Spikers in Game Three of the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 to claim their franchise’s first PSL title at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

After a tight first two matches, the winner-take-all match was hyped to be a potential blowout. Foton, however, imposed their dominance right from the first point, building early leads and responding decisively to every Petron attempt at a comeback. The Blaze Spikers only sniffed the lead momentarily in the second set, 9-6, after a solo 4-0 run from Dindin Santiago-Manabat. But Foton quickly responded through terrific blocking and attacking from Jaja Santiago and Kayla Williams. After retaking the lead with a quick 4-0 run, Foton proceeded to lord it over their deflated foes all the way into the third set, sweeping last season’s champions

Named conference MVP after the match, Foton import Lindsay Stalzer capped her marvelous Finals run with her fourth straight 20-point output, finishing the match with 20 points off 18 attacks, two blocks, and two aces.

“I really didn’t believe we were champions, until the confetti had come down on the court and everyone was celebrating. This is such an amazing feeling,” said Stalzer who made the most out of her second stint in the PSL after finishing fourth with the Cignal HD Spikers last year.

Stalzer’s fellow import, Katie Messing, added 14 markers while the conference’s Second Best Middle Blocker, Jaja Santiago, threw down 11 points.

“After ng simula namin, wala naman nag-expect na magchachampion kami kaya siguro sobrang sarap ng feeling ngayon. Tapos Petron pa ‘yung natalo namin – simula pa lang, isa na sila sa mga top teams,” conferred Santiago.

Foton started the season off slow, losing three of their first four matches. But the Tornadoes slowly remedied their problems, shoring up their floor defense and adding multiple plays to their offense. Foton knocked off their fellow tournament contenders one by one, thwarting a heavily-favored Philips Gold side in the semifinals. They took Game One of the Finals but relinquished Game Two in devastating fashion. But Game Three saw the Tornadoes overwhelm Petron with desire and energy.

Petron had taken the last two PSL championships – 2014 Grand Prix and 2015 All-Filipino – with a revamped lineup of some of the country’s most well-known locals.

The first overall pick of the PSL’s first ever draft, Dindin Manabat, topped Petron with 14 markers but was the only Blaze Spiker in double-digits. Brazilian setter Erica Adachi tossed 22 excellent sets.

The Scores

Foton (3) – Stalzer 20, Messing 14, Santiago 11, Williams 6, Araneta 6, Perez 3, General (L)

Petron (0) – Manabat 14, Maraño 8, Rupia 7, Molina 7, Aganon 2, Daquis 2, Cayetano 1, Masangkay 0, Reyes (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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