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Foton evades feisty Meralco, secures semis slot



Needing to win to enter the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix semis, the Foton Tornadoes fought off a sluggish early effort and rode a powerful late rally to quell the Meralco Power Spikers in five sets, 25-18, 18-25, 14-25, 25-16, 15-8 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

A torrent of Meralco errors allowed Foton to grab the lead in the first set, 11-4. Foton’s imports, Katy Messing and Lindsay Stalzer proceeded to carry the offensive load for the rest of the set, eventually bringing their team to a lofty 21-10 advantage. Attacks from Kristina Alessi and Cyd Demecillo sparked a late Meralco rally that trimmed the deficit down to five, 17-22. But errors from Demecillo and Alessi buoyed Foton to the set win.

Both squads went back and forth in the following set but Meralco broke through and took a hefty lead behind a 5-1 run highlighted by three consecutive Alessi hits that gave Meralco a 15-10 cushion. Lindsay Stalzer and Angeli Araneta kept Foton close getting them to within three, 15-18. But middle blockers, Majoy Baron and Mika Reyes provided Meralco a timely lift through their blocking and serving, combining for five straight points and a 23-18 lead. Errors from Messing and Araneta sealed Meralco’s set win.

Meralco continued to roll in the third set, managing an 8-0 lead off Kim Fajardo’s aces and Mika Reyes’ blocks. Stalzer tried her best to keep Foton close but Meralco’s solid floor defense and and attacking allowed them to take the set handily. Foton took their turn in starting the fourth set strong, gabbing the frame’s first five points and taking a 10-5 lead. After a timeout, Baron and Reyes again caught fire and sparked a 6-0 run that immediately pulled Meralco ahead, 11-10. Kayla Tianco-Williams, as she had all-game, turned the tides with her long float serves confounding Meralco’s receivers. Kayla had given Foton a 14-11 lead before ending her stint at the line with a service error. Foton, however, had grabbed the momentum and used their scrappy defense and attacking to protect the lead and take the set amidst multiple long rallies.

Foton threatened to take the fifth set immediately with Stalzer scoring three early points to give Foton a 6-2 advantage. Following a timeout, Meralco staged their final comeback effort, firing off three straight points to bring the Foton lead down to one, 5-6. The Tornadoes then convincingly put the match in the books, reading Meralco’s attacks and blocking every attempt magnificently. Kayla Williams put the match away with a resounding block in Cha Cruz that gave Foton a 12-6 lead. Stalzer, Messing, and Jaja Santiago scored Foton’s last three points and sealed Foton’s win.

“I guess there was complacency on our part during the second and third set. Siguro nag-relax lang talaga kami but it was great that we recovered and shook that off,” said Foton head coach, Vilet Ponce-De Leon. “I was very happy to see the leaders on our team really step up and lead the team vocally down the stretch,” she added.

Stalzer dropped a game-high 24 points off 20 attacks, three blocks, and an ace. NU standout Jaja Santiago added 14 points while Texan Katy Messing contributed 13 markers.

Foton’s win secured their spot on the semis with a 5-3 slate just behind Petron (6-2), Philips Gold (5-2), and Cignal, (6-2).

Meralco sits at the bottom of the standings, winless in eight matches. Christina Alessi topped the team with 18 points while Baron and Reyes each added 13 markers.

The Scores

Foton (3) – Stalzer 24, Santiago 14, Messing 13, Tianco-Williams 8, Araneta 6, Perez 4, Ceballos 2, Delos Reyes 0, Macatuno 0, Acevedo (L), General (L)

Meralco (2) – Alessi 18, Reyes 13, Baron 13, Cruz 8, Fajardo 7, Demecillo 6, Mercado 4, Kullerkann 1, Esperanza 0, Sison (L), Macandili (L)


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.