Parading a stacked team and a new head coach, the Cignal HD Spikers made a sensational debut, sweeping the IEM Volley Masters, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22, Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
“I didn’t expect na magiging dominant yung win namin today because it’s just our first game and naka-focus pa rin ako sa Ateneo,” said debuting Cignal head coach Oliver Almadro. “Good thing na may mga players ako na nag-cocoach na rin kaya nagtutulungan sila kanina. They are mature enough kung paano sila mag-prepare.”
Leading the HD Spikers was Mark Alfafara, who is currently an assistant coach to the University of Santo Tomas volleyball program. The UST alumnus scored 12 points, all on attacks. Cignal veteran Lorenzo Capate added 12 markers as well.
All throughout the game, the HD Spikers exposed IEM’s porous floor defense as 45 of their 75 points came from attacks.
Setter Vince Mangulabnan had 34 excellent sets, while Ysay Marasigan and Peter Torres chipped in nine and eight points respectively.
But still, Almadro believes that the team is still not at their peak. “Marami pa kaming babaguhin. Tingin ko nasa 40 percent pa lang kami pero good thing yung mga players confident going into this game.”
And after the UAAP Finals are done, Cignal will welcome two new additions to their already stacked lineup. “Rex Intal and Josh Villanueva will be coming in pa. Josh will be doing a different job here while si Rex same pa rin. It’s a good thing na yung Cignal is open for young talents,” the multi-time UAAP champion coach said.
“Yung sistema lang talaga yung kailangan namin hasain. The talent is there at yung cohesiveness na lang yung kailangan namin i-work out,” he added.
Recently-graduated Far Eastern University Tamaraw Greg Dolor paced IEM with 11 points. Jason Canlas added nine points.
Cignal will next face the Café Lupe Sunrisers on Tuesday, May 9 at 1:00pm. IEM, on the other hand, will have a week to regain their bearings before taking on the Air Force Airmen on Saturday, May 13 at 1:00pm.
Cignal (75) – Alfafara 12, Capate 12, Marasigan 9, Torres 8, Castel 7, Mangulabnan 2, Faytaren 1, Ramos J. 1, Ramos H. 0, Diezmo 0, Bonono 0, Montero (L), Opp. Errors 23.
IEM (57) – Dolor 11, Canlas 9, Gatdula 5, Guanzon 2, Presnede 1, Valenzuela 1, Ordonez 1, Arroyo 1, Gatdula 0, Carilles 0, Melgar (L), Opp. Errors 26.