AFTER two setbacks, Foton Pilipinas vented its ire on Rangsit University, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20, for its first win in the 2016 Sealect Tuna Thailand Volleyball League at the Wi Sommai gymnasium in Sisaket Province, Thailand on Friday.
American reinforcement Lindsay Stalzer led the way with 27 hits while fellow import Ariel Usher had 14 markers for the Tornadoes.
Italian coach Fabio Menta also got quality minutes on the court for University of Santo Tomas pair Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure along with Rhea Dimaculangan, Patty Orendain, Aby Marano and Maika Ortiz.
“I did give playing time to Laure and Rondina, our future stars, and I need to see them with the responsibility of winning a game with no ‘outside help’,” said Menta.
“The team feels strong and motivated. We are not talking anymore about the concept and philosophy of the game like in our first trainings, but we now analyze details and correlations,” added the veteran mentor.
Menta also stressed that he used his imports sparingly to give exposure and confidence to the locals as part of their preparation for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship from September 3 to 11 at the Alonte Sports Center in Binan City.
“I wanted Filipino players to gain maximum international exposure,” he said. “So for the first two sets, I played with one import at a time; Stalzer in the first and Usher in the second.”
“We knew that this is a game that the key was in forcing services; so our eight aces proved it. The girls had instruction to force all attacks and not to play dinks or easy overs,” added Menta, who will take over the team until the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix.
The Tornadoes had a rough start after it came from a three-set loss to home team PEA Sisaket led by national team members Pleumjit Thinkaow and Nootsara Tomkom, and a four-set meltdown to Asian champion Bangkok Glass to finish Group A with a 1-2 card. The top two teams in Groups A and B will advance to the semifinals.
Foton Pilipinas will be facing Kasetsart University on Saturday morning and a win will earn the Tornadoes a chance to play in the battle for 5th to 6th places.
“Our enemy tomorrow is waking up at 5:45 am, breakfast at 6:15 am, warm up at 7:15 am and game at 8 am,” Menta said. “But other than that, we will go for the kill.”