LIPA CITY — Behind Kalei Mau’s 21-point explosion was Iris Tolenada’s well-executed playmaking, moving F2 Logistics two wins away from bringing home the inaugural Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League title.
Mau unleashed her best game in the tournament so far, pouring 18 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to stun the erstwhile-unbeaten Petro Gazz in just three sets on Monday at the Aquamarine Sports Complex.
But the 26-year-old outside hitter deflected the credit and attributed her topscoring performance to Tolenada, who joined F2 Logistics last month in place of the recovering Kim Fajardo from a knee treatment.
Iris Tolenada: prized recruit
“Iris and I have been working really hard on our connection since our bubble training. I’m really really proud of her and without her I couldn’t have made all those points,” Mau told reporters in the post-game interview.
Tolenada orchestrated the balanced attack of the Cargo Movers with 22 excellent sets to keep her new squad unbeaten in three games without dropping a set.
Mau also credited their success to their net defense from opposite spiker Kianna Dy to middle blockers Majoy Baron and Aby Maraño as well as their floor defense anchored by libero Dawn Macandili.
“I think we did pretty good. For me, individually I can’t say that I did a good job,” she said. “It was my teammates around me getting balls up and scrappy defense. I’m just really proud of this.”
F2 Logistics head coach Ramil de Jesus said Tolenada was quick to adjust to their culture and system which reminds him when they first had fellow Filipina-American Mau two years ago.
“Alam mo naman yung orientation nila sa US magkaibang-magkaiba sa Asia kailangan mo lang i-adjust,” De Jesus said. “Ang maganda kay Iris, coachable and willing siya mag-adjust para sa team kung ano man merong chemistry ang F2.”
With two games remaining against the Perlas Spikers on Tuesday and Chery Tiggo on Thursday, Mau is eager to win the inaugural title to complete F2 Logistics’ sweet on-court comeback this pandemic.
“No matter who is on the other side of the net we’re gonna bring it, we’re gonna play our game and our objective of every game is to control and just play the game that we play and what were good at,” she said. “This is what we love to do and this is why we’re here.”