MANILA, Philippines – After absorbing their first losses, Petron and Iriga City will try to get back on track when they tackle separate foes in the Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Blaze Spikers clash with the young Victoria Sports-UST squad at 7 p.m. while the Lady Oragons tip things off when they battle Generika-Ayala in the 4:15 pm curtain-raiser.
Foton currently owns the No. 1 spot in the league standings with a perfect 4-0 win-loss record, while Petron and Iriga are behind with a 3-1 and a 1-1 slate, respectively.
After racing to three consecutive victories, the Blaze Spikers crashed back to earth after absorbing a sorry four-set loss to F2 Logistics, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, in a Spike on Tour encounter at the University of St. La Salle Gym in Bacolod City last weekend.
In that setback, Petron appeared a bit rusty with imports Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer failing to match the firepower of F2 Logistics bannered by Venezuelan Maria Jose Perez, American Kennedy Bryan and national team stalwart Kianna Dy.
"We played three straight games, so I think the girls were a little tired," said Petron coach Shaq delos Santos, noting that they ran out of gas against a well-rested F2 side.
The Cargo Movers sat out the league's first two weeks to give way to the University Games in Dumaguete City.
Now that they are coming off a breather, the Blaze Spikers expect to regain the form that led to their hot start.
Hurley and Stalzer, as well as local stars Frances Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons, are tipped to wreak havoc against the Golden Tigresses, who made heads turn in their debut despite swallowing a four-set loss to Cocolife Tuesday night, 19-25, 25-16, 17-25, 20-25.
Japanese import Yukie Inamasu is expected to lead the charge for Victoria Sports-UST together with college stars Carlo Sandoval and Dimdim Pacres, who finished with 14 points apiece against the tough defense of veterans Mary Jean Balse, Denden Lazaro, Joanne Bunag and the Asset Managers.
Also expected to make a rebound is Iriga City.
After posting a heart-stopping five-set victory over Sta. Lucia Realty in their debut, the Lady Oragons faded against powerhouse Foton in straight sets, no thanks to the one-year suspension imposed on star player Grethcel Soltones who violated the league's "one-league" policy.
"It is what it is," said Iriga City coach Parley Tupaz, following their 10-25, 23-25, 19-25 loss to the Tornadoes. "I told the team to forget about Grethcel and move on. We still have a mission to accomplish and we won’t make it if we will dwell on the (Soltones) issue."
With Soltones out after her team failed to sign her to a one-year deal, expect imports Tamara Kmezic of Serbia and Saama Miyagawa as well as Kath Villegas and Grazielle Bombita to work doubly hard to put the Lady Oragons back on winning track.
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