Reigning champion Foton needed more time to heat up before clobbering Sta. Lucia Realty, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17, in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Import Sara Klisura and Jaja Santiago spearheaded the Tornadoes’ furious attack in the crucial stretch of the third set to pull off the conquest and march into the semifinals of this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
Foton will be clashing with a familiar foe in Petron in the sudden-death semifinal battle of this league that also has Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Although Foton is slightly favored after reigning supreme over Petron in the past two championship duels, head coach Moro Branislav remains guarded, knowing that the Blaze Spikers are fresh from a heart-stopping five-set victory over Generika-Ayala in the quarterfinals.
“Foton likes playing against Petron,” said Branislav, promising an all-out war for a golden chance to make it back to the best-of-three finals that starts next Tuesday.
“This will be a very interesting battle. Unlike in the finals that we have three games, in the semifinals, it’s just one match and you’re out. So, we have to give our best against Petron if we want to defend our title.”
Klisura, who unleashed a record-breaking 41-point effort two weeks ago, regained her deadly form as she erupted for 20 kills and three blocks for a game-high 23 points while Santiago delivered 21 markers for the Tornadoes, who started out slow before catching fire in the third set en route to this impressive victory.
After equalizing the match at one-set apiece, Sta. Lucia still threatened to gain the upper hand after racing to a 17-13 lead in the third set.
But Santiago and Dragana Perunicnic waxed hot as they took turns in punching holes on the Lady Realtor’s defense to tally a 23-19 advantage.
Canadian guest player Marisa Field tried to pull the Lady Realtors closer, 22-23, but Santiago unleashed a powerful kill from the backrow while Klisura connected on a block to seal the third-set victory, 25-23, and gain momentum heading into the fourth.
“Winning over Sta. Lucia wasn’t easy. They are one of the top four teams in the league.” said Branislav. “This is a very difficult match against a team with very good defense. I’m glad that we made it.”
Bohdana Anisova tallied 21 kills while Pam Lastimosa chipped in 12 markers for the Lady Realtors, who showed flashes of brilliance in the crucial stretch of the single-round eliminations before running into a powerful Foton squad.
The Lady Realtors bombed out of the competition with a 3-5 win-loss mark.