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Foton-PH holds off Thai collegians

Foton Pilipinas brushed off a rusty start to roll over Kasetsart University, 17-25, 25-12, 25-23, 25-16, in the classification phase of the 2016 Sealect Tuna Thailand Volleyball League Saturday at the Wi Sommai gymnasium in Sisaket Province, Thailand.

With American imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer resting, the local crew of Aby Maraño, Maika Ortiz and EJ Laure did the damage for the Tornadoes, who are competing in this prestigious tourney as a warm up for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship next week at the Alonte Sports Center in Biñan City.

Italian coach Fabio Menta said Usher and Stalzer, as well as starting setter Rhea Dimaculangan, were given a breather to give young players ample exposures against topnotch Thai teams.

And he liked what he saw.

“Our Filipino (players) need to take responsibilities and overcome problems by themselves,” said Menta, a seasoned international mentor who called the shots for the national women’s team of Cook Islands last year.

“Today, they showed that they are mentally and physically ready to fight for their cause.”

Menta said Dimaculangan was also given a rest to prepare Perez for the real war ahead – the AVC tournament.

“Not today,” he said. “I need our two setters to be ready for the AWCC. Together, they need all options and they need to be equally prepared. So they played two games each so far.”

He added that the sluggish start was expected, specially with the team waking up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for the 8 a.m. battle.

“I told the team in the dressing room to be ready because we are expected to suffer in the first set,” Menta said. “Also, I played all-Filipino the whole game and some mechanisms had to be tuned again.”

The Tornadoes will be wrapping up their campaign in the battle for 5th to 6th places against the winner between Rungsit University and Nakhon Nonthaburi, who are still competing at press time.

Game will be at 10:30 a.m. (Manila time) on Sunday.