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Philips Gold secures bronze finish, hands Cignal fourth place

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The Philips Gold Lady Slammers shrugged off their heartbreaking loss last Thursday and salvaged their season, dispatching the Cignal HD Spikers in four sets 23-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-17 for third place in Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Imus Sports Complex in Cavite.

Middle blocker Alexis Olgard and open hitter Bojana Todorovic towed the Lady Slammers’ offense, providing their team with consistent scoring options throughout the match. The towering University of Southern California graduate Olgard recorded her tournament-high 25 points off 21 attacks, two blocks, and two aces. All-rounder Todorovic added 23 markers off 19 attacks, three blocks, and an ace, with eight digs and 23 excellent receptions.

The Lady Slammers started off sluggishly but regained their touch in the last three sets, shoring up their back row defense, and blocking and exposing Cignal’s limited offense. Philips Gold threw down 55 attacks to Cignal’s 48 and gathered 12 block kills to Cignal’s five.

According to Philips Gold head coach Francis Vicente, it was challenging trying to get his players pumped for the bronze medal match, given how they lost their do-or-die match last Thursday, a five-setter against the Foton Tornadoes.

“Mahirap kasi nasa isip nila dapat hindi kami naglalaro ngayon, dapat sa Finals kami. Pero after the match, hindi na namin masyadong inisip. Doon ko rin natutunan na dapat hindi dapat palaging may sermon. Naki-jamming lang ako with my players, we went out, we talked. Tapos pagdating sa game today, I just told them to enjoy the game,” Vicente recalled.

Last season, the Lady Slammers finished near the bottom of the standings in the Grand Prix. Having added better talent, Philips Gold finished the All-Filipino leg of the tournament in third place. After going 8-2 in the eliminations round, Philips nearly made the Finals this conference.

To Vicente, their similar third place finish in the Grand Prix bears more meaning, as his entire squad elevated their level play in the face of greater competition. “Maganda na rin itong third place namin sa Grand Prix. Ang lalakas ng mga kalaban namin tapos nag-excel ‘yung team, that’s a great sign for us. It just shows that our sacrifices in practice are paying off. Kailangan na lang ituloy-tuloy ‘yung ganito.”

Cignal’s imports, University of Portland standout Ariel Usher and University of Arkansas stalwart Amanda Anderson, led the squad as they had all season. Usher poured in 20 markers while Anderson managed 17 points as Cignal settles for a fourth place finish.

The Finals will kick off on Thursday, November 26 at the Cuneta Astrodome. Petron will be shooting for a Grand Slam against a determined Foton Tornadoes side. The Blaze Spikers swept their season series.

The Scores

Philips Gold (3) – Olgard 25, Todorovic 23, Dadang 8, Gumabao 7, Pablo 6, Dowd 4, Malaluan 0, Nepomuceno 0, Yongco 0, Gohing (L)

Cignal (1) – Usher 20, Anderson 17, Laborte 7, Gallenero 3, Vivas 3, Tiu 2, Mandapat 1, Ancheta 0, Dionela (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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