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Jau Umandal’s pride prevails against former Cignal teammates

Fighting for pride, Jau Umandal made sure that Cignal would come out on top against Criss Cross, a team composed of former HD Spikers, in their much-anticipated face-off last Sunday night.

Umandal delivered on his promise, steering the defending champions past the King Crunchers in five sets, 20-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12, in the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Philsports Arena.

The reigning Open Conference MVP, in a game that featured the country’s brightest stars in Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, shone the brightest and tallied 20 points, including the match-clinching kill, to lead Cignal to a pulsating victory which kick-started their brewing rivalry with Criss Cross.

“Siguro sa’min kanina, nilalaban ko na lang yung pride. ‘Di kami pwedeng magpatalo basta basta sa kanila,” said Umandal during the post-match interview.

Prior to the start of the conference, Espejo, along with other long-time HD Spikers stars such as Ysay Marasigan, who served as the team’s captain since 2019, Manuel Sumanguid, Geuel Asia, and Chumason Njigha left the six-time Spikers’ Turf champion squad.

All five players eventually joined the new squad backed by Rebisco, with former HD Spikers standouts Ish Polvorosa, Vince Mangulabnan, Rex Intal, and Jude Garcia also coming on board with the newly-formed team.

“Pinaghandaan namin sila, pinaghandaan nila kami, depende na lang talaga kung sinong magpe-perform sa loob talaga, kung sino yung lalaban talaga ng buong buo,” said Umandal.

Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor lauded the 26-year-old Umandal, who struggled to find his rhythm early on, for keeping himself focused on the task following a shaky performance in the opening set that saw him commit a couple of errors.ST-2024-Cignal-vs.-Criss-Cross-Jau-Umandal-8080 Jau Umandal's pride prevails against former Cignal teammates News Spikers' Turf Volleyball  - philippine sports news

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“Si Jau, sobrang na-control niya yung emosyon niya. Alam ko nanggigigil din, during the first set, ‘di ba? Pero ayun, nakahabol siya, nakabawi siya. Ang gusto lang naman namin manalo talaga eh,” said Clamor.

Umandal said their close encounter with the King Crunchers highlighted numerous positives for the team, particularly in showcasing their ability to perform under pressure.

Bagunas suffered from severe cramps in both of his legs late in the third set, which they lost, keeping him out for the remainder of the set and almost the entire fourth.

The HD Spikers, however, remained resilient and got a much-needed boost from second-stringers Mark Calado, Nas Gwaza, and Cian Silang in the fourth as they recovered from an 11-17 deficit to send the game to a decider.

“Siguro ano, sinubukan talaga ng game na ‘yun kung paano kami magco-connect. Kung paano namin ibi-build yung sarili namin kahit fourth set na nawala si Bryan so parang ganun lang yung pinanghawakan kami sa loob,” said Umandal.

“Kailangan naming mairaos hanggang fifth set kasi kapag nag-fifth set makakalaro si Bryan. Tyinaga lang namin siya kahit sobrang layo ng score nung fourth set.”

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