MANILA -- RC Cola-Army and F2 Logistics secured the last two spots in the semifinals Sunday with contrasting victories in the playoffs of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Sunday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The Lady Troopers survived a furious fightback from Generika to pull off a 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 victory, while the defending All-Filipino Conference champions Cargo Movers staved off an upset-conscious Cignal side, 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-10, to advance in the knockout Final Four.
American Hailie Ripley finally showed up as she delivered crucial hits that bailed the Lady Troopers out of trouble to book a sudden-death duel with top-seed defending champion Foton in the semifinals on Saturday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City.
After a lethargic performance in their previous encounter, Ripley finally caught fire, delivering 10 kills and a pair of blocks for 12 points, while skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga tallied a game-high 13 points for the Lady Troopers, who are tipped to make an impact in the semifinals due to their deep well of experience.
American Kierra Holst also showed up with 11 points while Honey Royse Tubino punched nine hits for Army.
Meanwhile, the Cargo Movers booked a Final Four date with last year's runner-up Petron Tri-Activ Spikers with a strong fourth-set performance after yielding the third frame.
F2 Logistics erased their awful game in the third set by torching the HD Spikers early in the fourth, 13-2, to control the tempo and complete its domination of Cignal in three meetings in the tournament.
RC Cola-Army assistant coach Rico de Guzman, who subbed for head coach Kungfu Reyes, admitted that the Lady Troopers paid special attention on the development of their defensive sets.
“Wala naman kaming problema sa opensa. 'Yung talagang pinatibay namin ay 'yung blocking at reception. 'Yun talaga ang naging focus namin sa training,” said de Guzman, who guided the Lady Troopers to three straight titles in the league’s inaugural season.
Polina Liutikova registered 10 hits while Ria Meneses and Darlene Ramdin tallied nine markers apiece for the Lifesavers, who were relegated to the battle for fifth to sixth places against Cignal.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.