Having lost both of their previous encounters, the Cignal HD Spikers finally solved the Generika-Ayala puzzle, dispatching the Lifesavers, 25-15, 17-25, 25-18, 25-22, in the quarterfinals of the 2019 PSL All-Filipino Conference, Saturday at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig.
“Nagwork naman. Factor din definitely yung 2 losses sa 1st round. Yun ang challenge ko sa kanila. At nachallenge naman sila,” Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga said.
“Ang sabi ko lang sa kanila marami tayong ginagawang paghahanda. Nasa sa inyo na ang desisyon,” he added.
Tied at one set apiece, Cignal buckled down to business in the third frame.
Behind the defensive prowess of Alohi Robins-Hardy and Jovelyn Gonzaga, the HD Spikers towered over their opponents and mounted a wall that stymied the hot hands of Fiola Ceballos and Patty Orendain for a 2-1 lead in sets.
With a win within sight, the HD Spikers raced to a 22-18 spread and thought they were off-the-hook until the Lifesavers stormed back and knocked to within a point, 22-23. However, Mylene Paat nailed a momentum-swinging hit, stopping the bleeding for Cignal and setting up the game-winning play from Gonzaga.
Robins-Hardy set the tone for Cignal, tallying an impressive 13-point, 19-set double-double performance. The Fil-Hawaiian also accounted for seven of her team’s 16 blocks — the biggest differential in the knockout bout, where the Lifesavers only netted five.
Cignal skipper Rachel Anne Daquis topped her team with 14 points while Paat nailed 11 attacks for 12 markers.
Gonzaga posted a double-double outing of 10 points — spiked by four rejections — and 14 excellent digs. Jheck Dionela manned the floor with 15 excellent digs and 14 excellent receptions.
On the other hand, the fourth-seeded Lifesavers ended their campaign with an 8-7 slate — sealed with a heart-wrenching loss to a lower seed.
Ceballos, who stepped up in the biggest of ways after Angeli Araneta went down with a conference-ending injury, erupted for 25 points that ultimately went down the drain.
Orendain supplied 11 markers on top of 17 excellent digs while Mean Mendrez, Mariella Gabarda, and Ria Meneses shared six markers apiece. Jamie Lavitoria had 13 excellent sets. Kath Arado collected 28 excellent digs.
The semifinals match between the Cignal HD Spikers and the reigning champions Petron Blaze Spikers, who will be armed with a twice-to-beat buffer, is slated on Tuesday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.