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Foton opens PSL title defense with 4-set win over Cignal HD

By Ricky Manliguis

SAN JUAN—Foton opened its three-peat drive on a winning note, but had to survive a tough Cignal HD squad for a 25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22 win in the featured match-up of the 2017 Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix opening at the FilOil Flying V Centre Saturday night.

Sara Klisura made her presence felt right away as the Serbian reinforcement exploded with 26 points anchored on 22 attacks, even as team captain Jaja Santiago finished with 19 as the Tornadoes join Petron as opening-day winners in the tournament.

Klisura’s compatriot Dragana Perunicic also accounted with nine markers, including the final point that extinguished Cignal’s fightback.   

The Tornadoes dictated the game early on with its superb service game (seven service aces in all) to establish a 2-0 lead and were poised to sweep the match.

Cignal then went to life in the third frame with Australian import Beth Carey firing on both ends for a 24-20 lead and force a fourth set.

But Foton recovered in time in the fourth, turning a 15-16 deficit to a 24-22 lead before Perunicic found space to drill the winning play.  

For Foton coach Bruno Branislav, however, it was not a satisfying triumph.

“For my opinion, we did not finish good blocks today. It’s just 70 percent (of what I expect). This game is just 30 percent but I hope that in the next seven matches we can do better,” he said.

 “For one moment, people thought it was going to be 3-0 but I think Cignal is a very strong team like other teams here in PSL.”

Carey finished with 20 points on 13 attacks and seven blocks while fellow import Alex Mathhews and the local tandem of Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga all punched in nine markers each for the HD Spikers.

Foton will come back to action on Oct. 28 against Cocolife, while Cignal faces Generika-Ayala two days earlier. 

Follow him on Twitter: @Teaching_Hero