Keeping their undefeated record alive, the Cignal HD Spikers rampaged to the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Finals, stomping the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls in Game Two of their semifinals series 25-23, 25-16, 25-17 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Cignal plodded through much of the first set, surrendering errors and free balls that bolstered Sta. Elena’s early offense. The Wrecking Ball had all the momentum, leading 23-19 and forcing the HD Spikers to a timeout. But Sta. Elena’s well ran dry as Cignal served hard and picked up crucial defensively plays. Back-to-back blocks on Sta. Elena’s Berlin Paglinawan capped a 6-0 Cignal run that gave them the early lead.
“Sabi ko sa kanila kung gusto nating magchampion, kailangan natin makuha ‘yung set na ‘to,” Cignal head coach Michael said of their final flourish. “Alam ko kasi yung kabilang team kapag nakakuha ng set, lalakas ang loob.”
“Siyempre, ayaw ko din naman mawalan nang kuMpiyansa ang mga players ko.”
Solid serving and blocking guided Cignal to a convincing second set win. Slotting in NCAA powerhouse Bonjomar Castel, Cignal denied or got a touch on nearly every Sta. Elena attack at the net. Solid play from Cignal’s other middle blocker, Herschel Ramos allowed the HD Spikers to inflate a 16-13 cushion to an insurmountable 22-15 lead. M
UAAP Season 78 Best Scorer Raymark Woo was unstoppable in the third set, tallying seven points in a splendid 15-7 start for the HD Spikers. With Cignal’s blocking wearing down their attacking, the Wrecking Balls barely put up a fight in the endgame, allowing their season to close with a quick loss.
Woo ticked off 22 points on 19 for 29 attacking. Two-time UAAP champion Ysay Marasigan added 11 markers.
“Talagang nag-focus kami sa blocking namin kasi nadoon talaga ang advantage namin,” said Cariño whose team managed a 10-5 disparity in block kills and 48-33 in spikes. “Kapag nakuha namin yung palo na kalaban, kahit mahawakan lang, malaking tulong na ‘yun kasi mas madali kaming makaka-opensa.”
De La Salle University Green Spiker Arjay Onia was the only Wrecking Ball in double-digits with 11 points.
Cignal now meets Air Force in the best-of-three Finals which starts on July 13 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig. The HD Spikers had defeated the Airmen in last season’s Reinforced Conference Finals, a heated series which went to three games. Cignal also took their elimination round match this season in straight sets.
“Siguro may psychological advantage na kami sa kanila kasi ilang beses na rin kami nananalo sa kanila sa Finals. Kung anong ginawa namin before para manalo, ganoon pa rin siguro ‘yung susubukan namin gawin,” Cariño quipped.
Cignal (3) – Woo 22, Marasigan 11, Castel 8, Ramos 8, Capate 7, Bonono 3, Faytaren 2, Dela Cruz 1, Calasin 0, Diezmo 0, Montero (L)
Sta. Elena (0) – Onia 11, Paglinawan 9, Camaganakan 7, Torres 7, Sarmiento 2, Mandani 2, Abdulwahab 1, Honrade 1, Arbasto 0, Relata 0, Mangaring (L)