MANILA -- Cocolife weathered a furious late rally by a shorthanded Cignal squad to eke out a 25-22, 25-21, 28-26 victory in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Serbian imports Marta Drpa and Sara Klisura were impressive while Erika Alkuino delivered the match-clinching block that sent the Asset Managers to the semifinals.
Cocolife will face Petron in the best-of-three semifinal battle, while Foton will face reigning champion F2 Logistics in the other semifinal match.
Coming in as a replacement for American Taylor Milton, Drpa delivered 11 digs and four of the Asset Managers’ eight total blocks on top of 15 kills to finish with game-high 19 points.
Klisura, on the other hand, chipped in 14 kills and two aces for 16 points while providing the defensive muscle down the stretch together with Alkuino, who came up with a booming block off Rachel Anne Daquis that sealed the victory for the Asset Managers.
It was a sorry loss for the HD Spikers, who marched into the battle without injured import Sonja Milanovic and head coach Edgar Barroga, who is calling the shots for the National University boys’ volleyball squad in the ongoing Palarong Pambansa in Vigan City.
They also lost spiker Janine Navarro midway through the third set due to injury.
Still, Cocolife head coach Moro Branislav found Cignal a tough nut to crack.
“Believe me, I like it better if Milanovic played. Cignal came into this match with a totally different psychology,” said Branislav.
Klisura responded with a strong kill to equalize the battle, 26-26, before watching setter Acy Masangkay fumble on her attack that set the stage for Alkuino’s heroic block.
Branislav said this kind of character makes him believe that they are ready against Petron, a powerful team that is looking to win its first Grand Prix crown after three straight years of bridesmaid finishes.
“Yes, we are ready for the semifinals contra Petron,” he said. “The next two to three days will be very crucial to our championship campaign. We will prepare hard for them.”
In another game, Channon Thompson made her presence felt as she towed Foton to a 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 victory over Sta. Lucia Realty to grab the last remaining semifinal seat in the second game.
Thompson, who starred for Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team in various international tournaments, tallied 24 of the Tornadoes’ 46 total attacks to finish with 26 points in a furious battle that lasted for 80 minutes.
Dindin Manabat chipped in 11 hits while Elizabeth Wendel and CJ Rosario combined for 14 markers for Foton, which will face reigning champion F2 Logistics in the best-of-three semifinals starting next week.
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