Defending champions Ezcasibasi Vitra were supposed to waltz past PSL-F2 Logistics Manila. But the hosts were bent on pulling off the unthinkable.
PSL-F2 Logistics were focused through out, winning their first set of 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championships but the Vitra bench recovered in the end to keep their unbeaten record in four sets 25-17, 25-17, 23-25, 25-14 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Already assured of the top seed in their group before the match started, Ezcasibasi decided to rest their main rotation for their big semifinal tomorrow against CEV rivals Vakifbank Istanbul.
F2 Logistics showed mettle, keeping Ezcasibasi within a point in the first set thanks to import Stephanie Niemer’s offense. With a 14-13 lead, Hande powered a 5-0 run that gave Ezcasibasi the lead for good in the first set.
PSL head coach Moro Branislav decided to field an All-Filpino lineup in the second frame. Surprisingly, the locals gave their taller foes fits, even taking the lead, 8-3, following a Kim Fajardo ace. After a timeout, Istanbul slowly cut into PSL’s lead, overtaking the hosts, 12-11, after a Jovelyn Gonzaga attack error. The locals then had trouble getting a good pass from that point, allowing Ezcasibasi to run away with the set.
F2 Logistics then changed pace in the third set, using an all-import rotation. But PSL only got their bearings when Kim Fajardo was subbed in for Thai setter Tichaya Boonlert. Fajardo took PSL from 5-8 deficit to a 17-all tie. The hosts then nearly had an 18-17 lead but a challenge from the Ezcasibasi side gave the lead and momentum to Ezcasibasi. The Turks sprinted to a 22-18 lead but Jaja Santiago sparked a late run, serving three straight aces that knotted the set at 22-all. At 23-all, Lindsay Stalzer unleashed a hit that ricocheted to the crowd which Niemer followed with a humungous backrow pipe that gave PSL their first set win of the tournament.
The Turkish side was bent on finishing the fourth set, sprinting to a 15-7 lead and never giving the hosts a chance to comeback.
“This is the first time a Philippine team won a set in a world stage. I remember this the same situation when I was in Serbia twenty years ago. I’v thankful that a lot of people came out to support the team and witness a big moment in Philippine volleyball,” said Branislav.
Demir finished with 23 points while Hande had 21 markers for Vitra.
Yevheniya Niyukhalova and Stephanie Niemer tallied 10 points apiece for F2 Logistics.
Ezcasibasi will play Vakifbank in the semifinals tomorrow at 7 pm. PSL-F2 Logistics will take on Hisamitsu Springs for the right to play for fifth tomorrow morning.
Ezcasibasi (3) – Demir 23, Baladin 21, Yilmaz 16, Arisan 10, Kiliçli 7, Ozdemir 3, Akoz (L)
PSL-F2 Logistics (1) – Niemer 10, Nyukholova 10, Santiago 9, Stalzer 6, Gonzaga 4, Morales 4, Daquis 4, Krivets 2, Fajardo 1, Reyes 1, Boonlert 0, Molina 0, Reyes (L), Fukuda (L)