Debuting a completely retooled lineup, the Smart Giga Hitters swept the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23, in the opening day of the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Smart quickly build big leads in the first and second sets to get an early edge. The third set featured a tight exchange between the two squads. Following consecutive Smart errors, the Lady Realtors tied the frame at 19. A strong stint at the service line from Jorelle Singh and a streak of kills from Grethcel Soltones pushed Smart to a decisive 24-19 lead.
Sta. Lucia made a last ditch run, coming within one, 24-23, before Sta. Lucia found the finishing point in a Soltones kill.
“Siyempre medyo matagal din kaming nag-prepare para sa liga, so happy lang kami na nakakalaro na kami ulet,” said Smart head coach Roger Gorayeb, who brought over his longtime players from PayMaya to boost Smart.
Soltones led a balanced Smart offense with 17 points, all coming off attacks. Jerrili Malabanan added eight points in just two sets of action.
“Lahat naman ng players ko nagtitiyaga sa training so gusto namin lahat makalaro. Mafter anda rin na nakakabalasa kami ng players,” added Gorayeb on his team’s all-around effort.
Sta. Lucia saw former Ateneo Lady Eagle Jho Maraguinot play her first game after signing last June. She finished wuth six points, while Pam Lastimosa led the way with eight markers.
MJ Philipps and Toni Basas are still unavailable for Sta. Lucia. Philipps is still recovering from a right shoulder injury, while Basas is still dealing with her right ear infection.
Smart will take on the Petron Blaze Spikers on November 8, while Sta. Lucia face theCargo Movers on November 3. Both matches will be at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Smart (3) – Soltones 17, Malabanan 8, Carandang 6, Singh 4, Sta. Rita 4, Villegas 4, Nabor 3, Latigay 2, Cayuna 1, Macabalitao 1, Urdas 1, Eroa (L), Pantone (L)
Sta. Lucia (0) – Lastimosa 8, Laborte 7, Villareal 7, Maraguinot 6, Raslan 4, De Leon 1, Estoquia 1, Hernandez 1, Baliton 0, Demantaño (L)