(Malolos Convention Center)
1 pm — Philips Gold vs Meralco
3 pm — Cignal vs RC Cola-Air Force
The historic city of Malolos in Bulacan will turn into a battlefield as Cignal tests its strength against a struggling RC Cola-Air Force squad in a bid to secure the second semifinal slot of the 2015 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament today at the Malolos Convention Center.
Action starts at 3 pm following the collission between Philips Gold and Meralco in the 1 pm first game of this premiere inter-club tourney presented by Asics and backed by Milo with Mueller, Senoh and Mikasa as technical partner and TV5 as official broadcaster.
It will be the league’s first “Spike on Tour” this conference after making stops in Cebu City, Ilocos Sur, Muntinlupa City, Binan City, Imus and Quezon Province.
“This is part of our mission of bringing world-class volleyball action closer to the fans,” said PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, adding that the next Spike on Tour will be held in Lipa City in Batangas next weekend. “Rest assured that we will continue to hold our Spike on Tour program and live up to our goal of inspiring fans, especially aspiring players from the provinces, to reach their dreams through volleyball.”
Tickets are still on sale at the venue.
After coming up with a five-game sweep of the first round, Cignal was billed as the league’s heaviest contender.
But the HD Spikers suffered some hiccups in the second round as they suffered a pair of sorry setbacks from the hands of reigning champion Petron and darkhorse Foton before the league took a seven-day break last week.
With that, Cignal, fell to the second spot with a 5-2 win-loss card while reigning champion Petron went on to clinch the first semifinal seat with a 6-2 slate through the virtue of its straight-set win over Meralco late Thursday; 27-25, 25-20, 25-21.
Not far behind is Philips Gold, which is also looking to inch closer to the next round with a 4-2 mark, as well as surging Foton with 4-3.
“We may have peaked early, but it’s still a long way to go,” said Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar. “We just have to rediscover our focus and trust each other both inside and outside the court. All teams are strong; we have to bring our A-game if we really want to reach the championship.”
Acaylar said his imports Ariel Usher and Amanda Anderson have refreshed during the break as well as locals Cherry Mae Vivas, Michelle Laborte, Fritz Gallenero and setter April Ross Hingpit, who is making heads turn with her vast improvement in playmaking.
RC Cola-Air Force, however, will not go down without putting up a fight.
With Puerto Rican sensation Lynda Morales and American import Sara McClinton serving as the only bright spots, the Raiders are a picture of frustration on both ends as their poor defense and lack of reception led to a five-game losing skein.
RC Cola-Air Force needs to stop the bleeding and sweep its remaining games to advance to the semis.
“We need a win very badly,” said RC Cola-Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo, admitting that his squad has yet to gain its full strenght after embarking on a nine-month military training early this year. “We are blessed with two good imports so we also have to work hard and do our part. So far, our defense has been our major problem. We must do something about it to arrest our skid.”
Aside from Morales and McClinton, Verayo will also bank on Singapore Southeast Asian Games veterans Maika Ortiz and Rhea Dimaculangan as well as Wendy Semana, Judy Caballejo and Iari Yongco.