F2 Logistics survived a tough challenge from hard-fighting Generika-Ayala, getting its act together in the fifth set for a nail-biting 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 19-25, 15-5 victory to book its fifth consecutive Finals appearance in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday at the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
The Cargo Movers squandered a 2-1 match advantage as the Lifesavers put up a gallant stand in the fourth set to force a decider.
But Cha Cruz-Behag, Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, and Michelle Morente sparked F2 Logistics in its fifth-set rout that outlasted their gritty rivals in two hours and 18 minutes and earned their third straight All-Filipino Finals and sixth overall championship appearance.
Behag showed resiliency and composure leading her teammates with 17 points off 13 kills, two service aces and as many as blocks. Maraño and Ara Galang chipped in 16 and 15 hits, respectively, while Baron and Morente added 12 markers apiece.
Morente, who is filling in the big shoes of injured Kianna Dy, also stepped up in floor defense with 17 digs and nine excellent receptions, while setter Kim Fajardo made 25 excellent sets on top of seven markers.
F2 Logistics will take on the winner between the twice-to-beat leader Petron and No.4 Cignal, who were facing each other for the last Finals berth as of posting time, in a best-of-three championship series starting on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Cargo Movers head coach Ramil de Jesus admitted that the Lifesavers strongly challenged them this conference splitting their two-round preliminary battles before this nail-biting semis game.
“Talaga namang confident 'yung Generika kapag kami 'yung kalaban. Nakikita kasi nila na may mga advantage sila sa rotation,” De Jesus said. “Nagagamit nila 'yung opportunity na magkaroon ng lapses kami sa loob”
But after flirting with disaster in the fourth set, the three-time PSL champion coach challenged his wards in the fifth set that woke up the Cargo Movers leading to a fiery 10-2 start in the decider and never looked back to avoid playing a rubber match on Thursday.
“Sabi ko kung gusto nila maglaro sa Thursday, sige lang. Pero kung ayaw niyo, tapusin niyo na. Kung di pa kayo pagod, edi maglaro pa tayo sa Thursday,” he said. “Actually, nakikita ko naman na kapag kaya pigain 'yung kalaban, napipiga naman. May mga times lang na petiks eh. May times na lalamang tas magbibigay ng error. Mabubuhay 'yung Generika tapos bababa 'yung team.”
Skipper Angeli Araneta led the Lifesavers’ gallant fight with 17 points, while Patty Orendain and Fiola Ceballos added 15 and 12 hits, respectively. Kat Arado, straight from UE-UST game minutes ago, had 32 digs and 16 excellent receptions.
Generika-Ayala gave its all and pushed F2 Logistics to its limits only for the Lifesavers to lose their first semifinals appearance and settle for Battle for Third facing the loser of the other semis pairing.