Defending champion Foton Tornadoes avenged their All-Filipino Conference Finals loss to the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 victory in the opener of the 2016 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
The Tornadoes, who had absorbed a painful Game 3 lost in the All-Filipino Finals, began their championship defense bid strongly, walloping the Cargo Movers, who only had one import in Sydney Kemper and missed Ara Galang due to a minor right knee operation.
Foton American imports Ariel Usher and reigning Grand Prix Most Valuable Player Lindsay Stalzer, who were with the team since their 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship campaign last month, provided the punishing blow to lead their squad in its first win.
Usher led the charge with 20 points highlighted by 19 spikes, while Stalzer had 13 attacks, a pair of service aces and a block for 16 points, including seven digs and six excellent receptions. Jaja Santiago also stood out adding nine points.
“This result, 3-0, is okay but for my opinion this is not maximum for my team. This is only 50 to 60 percent,” said Foton head coach Moro Branislav. “But I respect F2 Logistics, they are good too even they only played with one domestic player. This is just the first match.”
The Tornadoes, after convincingly taking the first set, brought enough momentum to mount a 23-17 lead before the Cargo Movers fought back and scored three straight points, keeping Foton within striking distance, 23-20 in the second frame. Stalzer and Usher provided back-to-back hits to give their team a 2-0 sets advantage.
Foton trailed in the third set, 3-7, but the team responded right away with eight straight points to gain the lead, 11-7. Stalzer, Usher and Santiago then led a rampage, building a 23-13 advantage. With a huge lead, Dindin Santiago-Manabat made her return to the league for the first time after her pregnancy, but F2 Logistics scored two more points before Usher sealed the win with back-to-back hits.
Foton only had nine errors in the match while forcing 17 miscues from F2 Logistics.
Kemper, the lone import of F2 Logistics, was only limited to seven points, as Aby Marano stepped up for the Cargo Movers with 12 points in a losing cause. Skipper Cha Cruz and Majoy Baron added nine and eight markers, respectively.
Their second import Hailey Dora Spelman is expected to arrive in the country on Tuesday.
Foton (3) – Usher 20, Stalzer 16, Santiago 9, Ortiz 5, Dimaculangan 4, Araneta 3, Orendain 1, Manabat 0, General (L)
F2 Logistics (0) – Maraño 12, Cruz Ch. 9, Baron 8, Kemper 7, Dy 4, Fajardo 2, Navarro 1, Reyes 1, Cheng 0, Demecillo 0, Cruz Ci. (L), Macandili (L)