After more than a year of consistently losing to the same foe, the Cignal HD Spikers finally broke through against the Air Force Jet Spikers.
Right when they needed the win most, the HD Spikers outclassed the Jet Spikers in four sets, 18-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19, to take Game One of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals at the PhilSports Arena.
The last time Cignal beat Air Force was in Game Three of the 2015 Reinforced Conference Finals, when they brought home their last title.
While today’s match started off sluggishly for the HD Spikers, they picked up the pace after dropping the first set and trailing 4-7 in the following frame.
According the Cignal head coach Oliver Almadro, it was important for his team to overcome the mental hurdle Air Force presented.
“’Yung first set kasi alam mo naman ang psychological effect na for the past ilang seasons hindi sila nananalo sa Air Force. So ang tendency nila madaliin ang sarili nila,” said Almadro. “Now noong naka-recover, naka-relax na, they believed in each other, they trusted each other so doon na namin nakuha ang momentum.”
From the second set on, the HD Spikers controlled the match with solid play throughout. Cignal build big leads following Air Force errors and mis-receptions. Unlike past encounters, Air Force had no counter for Cignal’s outbursts.
“I’m not taking this out from Air Force. They are really a strong team. Advantage na advantage sila. Ang advantage lang ng team ko ay teamwork at tiwala nila sa isa’t isa,” Almadro added.
Former San Beda Red Lion Saku Capate led a balanced Cignal attack with 15 points, while former league MVP Mark Alfafara added 13.
UAAP Season 79 Best Server Bryan Bagunas anchored Air Force with 15 points while towering middle blocker Kim Malabunga managed 14 points which included four blocks and two aces.
The HD Spikers can claim their second league title with a win on Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena.
Cignal (3) – Capate 15, Alfafara 13, Torres 11, Marasigan 10, Intal 8, Mangulabnan 4, Bonono 3, Diezmo 0, Faytaren 0, Ramos E. 0, Montero (L)
Air Force (1) – Bagunas 15, Malabunga 14, Abdilla 12, Ismail 7, Malabanan 7, Tolentino 2, Lopez 1, Dela Calzada 0, De Ocampo 0, Dimaculangan 0, Chavez (L)