BIÑAN CITY – Import Lindsay Stalzer and Jaja Santiago made surprise appearances, but their presence was not enough as Foton Pilipinas absorbed a 25-27, 18-25, 21-25 setback to Altay VC of Kazakhstan at the end of pool play of the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship Wednesday at the Alonte Sports Arena.
Despite being ruled out the day before due to various reasons, Stalzer and Santiago still competed for the Tornadoes, who melted against the taller, heftier Kazakhs in this continental battle organized by the Philippine Superliga, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the city government of Biñan.
Also emerging victorious in this tourney bankrolled by SMM Sport, Nike, Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Foton, BMW, Rexona, PLDT and Price Waterhouse Cooper with Crimson Hotel as official residence, and TV5 and SMMTV of Thailand as official broadcast partners was NEC Red Rockets of Japan, which crushed Thongtin Lienvietpost Bank of Vietnam, 25-15, 25-19, 25-13, in the first match.
With the win, the Japanese finished the second round on top of Group E to book a quarterfinal battle with the loser between T. Grand of Chinese Taipei and Sarmayeh Bank of Iran, who are still playing as of press time.
Foton Pilipinas, meanwhile, fell to fourth spot in Group E and will tackle the winner between Bangkok Glass of Thailand and Ba’yi Shenzheng of China in the other quarterfinal pairing.
Quarterfinals erupt on Friday after the tourney takes a one-day break on Thursday.
Although Tornadoes’ head coach Fabio Menta admitted that he is more comfortable playing against the Thais after facing them in the 2016 Sealect Tuna Thailand Volleyball League three weeks ago, he knows their fate is no longer on their hands.
“We played with the Thailand national team and Bangkok Glass in Sisaket three weeks ago and we did pretty well. It was such a tight ballgame,” said Menta, who called the shots for the Cook Islands women’s team last year.