FOTON newcomer Grethcel Soltones stood out in the eyes of Kobe Shinwa University coach Kiyokazu Yamamoto during their match in the Belo-Philippine Super Liga Invitational Conference on Thursday.
Soltones scored 14 points, all from kills, to lead the Tornadoes' gallant stand that ultimately fell short against the Japanese guest team, 15-25, 25-22, 18-25, 12-25.
Still, her effort did not escape the eyes of the Japanese coach.
“The No. 5 side attacker (Soltones) and No. 10 middle attacker (Maika Ortiz) were very very powerful, so we were very careful of them,” said Yamamoto.
But the former San Sebastian ace hitter and three-time NCAA MVP said she only got the Japanese's attention because of the absence of Foton skipper Dindin Santiago-Manabat, who was sidelined due to a grade two MCL strain and ACL tear on her left knee she suffered a week ago.
“For me, wala naman sa akin yun. For me, thank you na lang pero baka kasi kaya wala si Ate Din kaya sa akin sila nag-focus,” said the hard-hitting spiker from Catmon, Cebu.
Soltones admitted that they have to double their efforts in filling the void left by Santiago-Manabat, who’s averaging 14.4 points per game.
Although her numbers are as good as the 6-foot-2 spiker’s (14.6 per game), Soltones believes the rest of the team needs to step up as the Tornadoes (0-1) try to bounce back against Petron (0-1) when the final round of the Invitational Conference resumes on Friday.
“Sobrang laking bagay ni Ate Din. Siya ‘yung nag-le-lead sa team namin at ang laking adjustment na ginagawa namin ngayon ng wala siya,” said Soltones.
Meanwhile, the outspoken spiker admitted that playing against a foreign team inspires her want to improve her game.
“Ako kasi pag ibang bansa ‘yung kalaban, sobrang dami ko natututunan at dumadagdag sa experience namin. Nacha-challenge akong lalo kasi nakikita ko yung mga kulang ko pa,” she said.