Will the injury-plagued F2 cruise past the peaking PLDT Power Hitters?

PSL Grand Prix Preliminaries Recap

1st Game (March 9) : F2 defeated PLDT in straight-sets (25-20, 25-21, 25-19)
2nd Game (March 16): PLDT defeated F2 in straight-sets (25-20, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18)

Quarterfinals in review

Two seed Foton needed a do-or-die match to eliminate Seventh seed Foton in four-sets (25-22, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19)
Three seed PLDT needed a do-or-die match to eliminate Sixth seed Generika Ayala in five-sets (25-15, 25-20, 24-26, 25-27, 15-12)

In a battle between two of the most storied franchises in Philippine Volleyball with a strong local core goes mano-y-mano in the semifinals of the PSL Grand Prix as the veteran laden F2 Logistics Cargo Movers goes up against the young and upcoming PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters.

What should F2 do?

Photo courtesy of Noel Gonzales Volleyball PH

With a squad as cohesive as the Cargo Movers, everyone was caught off-guard when injuries started to plague the Cargo Movers. First it was Kim Kianna Dy and Cha Cruz-Behag, then came the finger injury to Kim Fajardo. Then came the pregnancy of Cruz-Behag that will now take a more longer time to be on the sidelines for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad. With this kind of a problem, the Cargo Movers are now sticking to the seven to eight woman rotation with Michelle Morente subbing in on occasions blocking is needed or when Ara Galang is shifted to the setter spot. The Cargo Movers should keep on doing what they were doing in their wins and that is continue fighting and never give up.

One positive to the squad is the tandem of two of the most decorated imports in the country to date in Lindsay Stalzer and Maria Jose Perez. Stalzer,a two-time PSL MVP, is still proving to everyone that she is the best import in the country as she is still providing the scoring punch and leadership experience the Cargo Movers is missing from Cruz-Behag.

The two-time Grand Prix champion has accumulated a total of 268 points in her stay with the Cargo Movers making her the team’s leading scorer. But this is the playoffs and expect Stalzer to score more in the semifinals to barge to the finals once again.

Perez, who replaced Rebecca Perry in the latter part of the preliminaries, is showing everyone why she was called back by the Cargo Movers. The Venezuelan national is averaging 20.8 ppg in her five games and is still proving to be the same weapon F2 had in the last two seasons. Both imports will be looking to move forward and this series against the Power Hitters will be their stepping stone to prove that they are still the top imports in the PSL.

Another added positive for the Cargo Movers is the resurgence of Galang. The former Lady Spiker is proving to be the third option the Cargo Movers are looking for in the tournament next to Stalzer and Perez. Galang is averaging 10.3 ppg and is currently ranked fourth in the service aces category with an accumulated score of 24 service aces. With Galang’s numbers moving up, this can be the barometer to where the F2’s chances will go in this semifinals series against PLDT.

What should PLDT do?

Photo credit: Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

It has been the Kendra Dahlke-Grace Lazard show for the Power Hitters. Dahlke is proving to Coach Roger Gorayeb that they made the right choice in selecting the former University of Texas as their import as she has accumulated 286 points in getting to an average of 17.9 ppg. These numbers are average numbers but if you take a look at her last two games against Generika Ayala, Dahlke scored 23 and a tournament-high 37 points in those two matches respectively.

It now proves that PLDT is one of the most dangerous squads in the tournament with Dahlke peaking up her game going in to the semifinals. Lazard on the other hand had a great start on the tournament as she is the middle blocker missing from the rotation of Gorayeb. The former Iowa State middle blocker is proving to be the perfect net defender PLDT is looking for as she tops the statistical numbers in blocks with a total of 52 blocks.

Also Lazard is showing that it is not just Dahlke that teams should look forward to as she to can get the points in crunch situations as she has accumulated a total of 283 points in the tournament. Both these players will be the players to look out for if the Power Hitters wants to go the finals of the Grand Prix.

One of the barometers of the performance of the Power Hitters this conference is former NU Lady Bulldog Aiko Urdas. In the nine wins of PLDT, Urdas scored an average of 10.9 ppg while on the seven losses, Urdas scored an average of 4.1 ppg. Truly she will be the barometer of how far the Power Hitters will go as she will also look to get ample support from the comebacking Grethcel Soltones, Jasmine Nabor, Shola Alvarez and Sasa Devanadera to get them moving to the finals.

Who will take Game One of this series? Will the experience of F2 carry them to the finals or will the youth movement propel PLDT to the Last Dance? A great series to look forward to for this PSL Grand Prix,

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