DEFENDING champion Foton opened its title retention bid on a high note with a solid 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 victory over a depleted F2 Logistics yesterday at the start of the 2016 Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
The Tornadoes, who absorbed a painful Game 3 loss in the All-Filipino Finals at the hands of their victims, began their championship defense by walloping the Cargo Movers, who only had one import in Sydney Kemper pending the arrival of their second reinforcement for this interclub tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Mueller, Grand Sport, Senoh, Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
The Cargo Movers also 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 blows against their rivals.
Usher led the charge with 20 points highlighted with 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.
In the first game, the imports came strong as expected and complemented the numbers churned out by the locals as Petron jumpstarted its campaign with a rousing 25-18, 25-23, 25-14 triumph over Generika.
The Tri-Activ Spikers played like a well-oiled offensive machine in dismantling the Life Savers in just 71 minutes to win their first game of the interclub tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Mueller, Grand Sport, Senoh, Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
American import Stephanie Niemer topped all scorers in her debut, finishing with 18 points on 15 spikes, three blocks and three service aces, including six digs to lead the way for Petron. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and the new skipper Frances Molina chipped in 10 hits each, while the other reinforcement from United States, Serena Warner, added nine points.
“We’re happy that everybody performed well today. Hopefully, we could maintain this kind of performance and keep on improving because it’s a long way to go for all the squads this conference,” said the New Head Coach of Petron, Shaq Delos Santos, who replaced former mentor George Pascua before the start of the conference.
The Tri-Activ Spikers, who were the runners-up in last year’s Grand Prix, consistently carried the momentum up to the second set, building a 7-0 margin and extended it to a commanding 18-12 lead.
However, Generika managed to recover, scoring eight of the next 10 points to tie at 23-all. Petron stopped the bleeding with a great play capped by Maizo-Pontillas’ crosscourt hit to take the two-set advantage.
Petron caught fire in the third set, building an 18-12 lead and never looked back from there to win the match, nailing seven of the last nine points.