Can F2 Logistics stop Petron?

F2 Logistics head coach Ramil de Jesus remains optimistic that his wards can overcome Petron in the semifinals of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix this weekend at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City in Albay.

Petron is the only club that handed F2 Logistics humiliating setback.

In their first meeting, import Hayley Spelman and Ara Galang were not around, leaving the Cargo Movers black and blue with a 25-17, 25-22, 29-19 beating. Few weeks later, it happened again as Stephanie Niemer singlehandedly torched the Cargo Movers for an impressive 25-22, 25-19, 25-10 victory.

That’s why de Jesus is dead serious to turn overcome Petron in a sudden-death semifinal showdown where the winner gets a chance to face either reigning champion Foton or RC Cola-Army in a best-of-three finals duel.

It may seem like a tough task, but de Jesus and the Cargo Movers are ready. And for them, beating Petron is just a matter of time.

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Stopping Niemer

Petron is at its best when Niemer is wreaking havoc.

Although the Tri-Activ Spikers lost in their first meeting with the Tornadoes in a match best remembered for Niemer’s impressive display of volleyball brilliance and prowess through a 38-point performance, de Jesus believes that stopping Niemer would be the key to victory.

And it all starts with a good – actually, excellent – first ball.

[quote]You will not stand a chance if you can’t catch her serves. The ball runs, as they say, 85 kilometers per hour. It’s really fast so we have to know how to handle her serves.[/quote]

De Jesus and the Cargo Movers appeared to have learned their lesson.

In their second encounter, Niemer erupted from the service box with nine aces, putting the Cargo Movers great defensive set up to shame. Even All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player Dawn Macandili failed to come up with a reply to those bombshells of a serve, completely throwing the Cargo Movers out of their comfort zone.

Aside from Niemer, de Jesus said they also have to stop her support crew.

CJ Rosario, Jen Reyes, Bang Pineda and import Serena Warner serve as Petron’s solid backbone on defense while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Frances Molina backs Niemer at the attack zone.

[quote]We have to stop Niemer without taking for granted her support cast. It takes a total team effort to beat a great team like Petron.[/quote]

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Still hopeful

Despite the twin setbacks in the preliminaries, de Jesus said they are still optimistic that they can dominate Petron en route to winning the title where a slot in the AVC Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan is at stake.

He said they are now working on further sharpening the connection between Kim Fajardo and imports Hayley Spelman and Sydney Kemper while fortifying their defense bannered by Macandili at the backline as well as Aby Marano, Mika Reyes and Majoy Baron at the frontline.

[quote]We still need to jell more on defense and Kim (Fajardo) must continue familiarizing herself with specific plays for Kemper and Spelman[/quote]

And as an added motivation, de Jesus would keep on reminding the team the sad, but challenging, reality: We never won against Petron this conference.

[quote]We have yet to win against Petron. So that should serve as our motivation. Hopefully, we play well. We are all fired up to get that (semifinal) victory in Albay.[/quote]

De Jesus said the semifinals would boil down into a war of attrition, into a personal battle where only the strongest will survive. They need to punch that victory very badly.

Time is ticking off. It’s now or never.