IMUS CITY — Crushed by their respective setbacks in the semifinals, Philips Gold and Cignal gather themselves up and will clash for the consolation third-place trophy in the classification match of the 2015 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament today at the Imus Sports Center in this booming city, Saturday, Nov. 21.
Opening serve is set at 1 pm while tail-enders RC Cola-Air Force and Meralco collide at 3 pm to settle who will emerge as fifth-placer in this prestigious inter-club tournament presented by Asics and backed by Milo with Senoh, Mueller and Mikasa as technical partners and TV5 as official broadcaster.
No less than Cong. Alex Advincula, Imus City mayor Emmanuel Maliksi, vice-mayor Armando Ilano and board member Ony Cantimbuhan will roll out the red carpet for the members of the four competing teams as well as the entire PSL delegation led by president Ramon “Tats” Suzara and chairman Philip Ella Juico, who confirmed the use of video challenge system in this pair of highly-crucial matches.
“This marks the first time that we will use the video challenge system in a Spike on Tour event,” said Juico, also a former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). “Knowing that the stakes are high and the matches are crucial, it is only fitting to treat volleyball fans of Imus City to an ultimate volleyball experience through the help of the latest technology in officiating. We’re looking forward to intense action and exciting finishes.”
After finishing the double-round eliminations on top of the team standings, Philips Gold found itself stacked against a hungry and well-prepared Foton side in the do-or-die semifinals.
But after dragging the Tornadoes to a deciding fifth set, the Lady Slammers fell short with errors and poor executions, surrendering a heart-breaking 18-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 8-15 decision to the Tornadoes, who went on to book a best-of-three finals duel with reigning champion Petron starting next week.
“It was such a sorry loss,” said Philips Gold coach Francis Vicente. “But it is what it is. Life must go on. We just have to pick up the pieces and get ourselves ready for the battle for third. I’m sure Cignal also wants to come up with a strong finish.”
Vicente added that his players, led by imports Bojana Todorovic and Alexis Olgard as well as Filipino-American setter Lindsay Dowd, Myla Pablo, Michelle Gumabao and libero Mel Gohing are eager to storm back takes.
“They are all ready,” he said. “A bronze medal is better than having no medal at all. I expect the team to come out strong and deliver a podium finish.”
Like Philips Gold, Cignal’s championship run also ended on a frustrating note.
Powered by former University of Oregon star Ariel Usher and Amanda Anderson, the HD Spikers swept the first round, igniting speculations that they are out to duplicate the 13-0 sweep Petron achieved during the previous All-Filipino Conference.
But Cignal suffered three losses in the second round that pushed it all the way to the third spot of the four-team semis where it faced Petron, a squad overflowing with star power and championship experience.
With the Blaze Spikers — led by Rupia Inck, Rachel Anne Daquis and Dindin Manabat — flaunting their championship form, the HD Spikers succumbed to pressure and bowed with a 20-25, 24-26, 25-20, 13-25 decision.
“Masakit syempre kasi na-sweep namin ang eliminations,” said Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar. “Kaya sinabi ko sa kanila na hindi man natin nakuha ang championship, bumawi na lang kami at kunin ang third place. Mabigat na kalaban ang Philips Gold. Pero gagawin namin lahat para talunin sila.”
Aside from Usher and Anderson, Acaylar will also be banking on the veteran leadership of Michelle Laborte together with Gritz Gallenero, April Ross Hingpit, Cherry Mae Vivas and libero Jheck Dionela.