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Cignal overwhelms Mane ‘n Tail, sets up Lucena date with Philips Gold

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After suffering through a miserable seven-game losing streak, the young and thundering Cignal HD Spikers whipped the Mane ‘n Tail Lady Stallions in straight sets, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 in their final match of the preliminary round of the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The absence of Mane ‘n Tail’s top scorer, Royse Tubino – who was absent as she attended to family matters – was a huge factor as the Lady Stallions turned in a pale 25-attack performance to Cignal’s booming 44 spikes.

Cignal’s attackers got into their groove early in stark contrast to their previous matches when it took them some time to get their offense revving. Cignal broke away from an 8-8 tie in the first set with a 9-3 scoring blitz, anchored by powerful hits from its attackers, giving them the lead, 17-11. Cignal surrendered just six points from there as their setter, Chang Ancheta, got herself three points in the final stretch of the set, sealing Cignal’s first frame triumph.

The following set was the match’s closest as both teams had trouble managing the lead when they got it. A three-point Cignal scoring boom capped by a Jeanette Panaga left-handed drop shot gave Cignal the lead, 20-19. Two straight kills, courtesy of Mela Tunay, made up for a Mervic Mangui serve error and kept Cignal ahead 22-20. Another service error from Panaga threatened to halt Cignal’s momentum, but Lourdes Clemente saved the set for Cignal as her consecutive quick hits gave Cignal the set and a massive 2-0 sets lead.

Their futility in the previous sets seemed to deflate Mane ‘n Tail, which let Cignal waltz to a massive 8-3 lead in the third canto. Moreover, Cignal’s Mela Tunay and Jeanette Panaga converged for eight points in the final set of the match, keying their team to another convincing set win.

Cignal’s Mela Tunay led all scorers with 15 points, while Jeanette Panaga and Mervic Mangui contributed 13 and 10 markers, respectively.

HD Spikers’ Head Coach, Sammy Acaylar, was incredibly pleased with his team’s upbeat performance. “Masaya ako kasi hindi sila na-down the entire match. Kita naman na mga bata pa ‘yung mga player ko. At the training yesterday, we actually didn’t prepare for this particular match, we were already looking forward to our transition match sa next round.”

Cignal finished just five points ahead of Mane ‘n Tail in the won points column to earn their fifth seeding. They will now face the Philips Gold Lady Slammers, who they beat in the first round in straight sets and battled to five excruciatingly long sets in the second round. Their match will take place on Saturday at Lucena City, Quezon Province.

The Scores:

Cignal (3) – Tunay 15, Panaga 13, Mangui 10, Clemente 8, Ancheta 7, Vuvas 5, Dionela (L), Enclona (L)

Mane ‘n Tail (0) – Mabbayad 10, Gendrauli 7, Gustillo 6, Praca 6, Dawson 4, Veronas 2, Argarin 1, Amad 1, Diaz (L), Cortel (L)

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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