In command or in pursuit, Cignal HD knew the drill – stay focused and never give up.
Trailing down the stretch in all three sets, the HD Spikers stuck to their game plan. They never wavered, hacking out a string of squeakers for a 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 victory over Petro Gazz.
They also moved closer to the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Finals at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Friday.
The HD Spikers used their veteran smarts to rattle the Angels, and flashed the poise and character that win big-time championships. They overcame deficits in the clutch while shutting down their rivals to pound out the win.
With this, they seize the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series.
“Actually kanina, sobrang happy at the same time nakakaenjoy panoorin kasi ako kahit ako nag co-coach siyempre pero naeenjoy ko siya kasi grabe yung labanan.” said Shaq delos Santos
Rachel Anne Daquis and Ces Molina provided the leadership, while Angeli Araneta and Rosely Doria supplied the key blasts. Ria Meneses dominated the middle with her quick hits and blocks.
Using all that, the HD Spikers shrugged off the Angels’ gritty plays the majority of the way. They then unleashed a series of strong finishing kicks to fashion out the sweep in one hour and 26 minutes.
Meneses pumped in 11 hits on quick plays and tips and came away with three block points. Daquis continued to flash vintage form and added 11 points. Molina and Doria scored 10 points apiece, while Araneta chipped in nine hits, including the clincher.
Throughout their remarkable run from the prelims to the quarters – which they dominated – and in the Final Four, playmaker Gen Cayuna operated like she owned all zones of the court. She baffled the Angels with her blend of front- and back sets and quick plays.
Her last feed set up Araneta for a clever push that ended the match, which was close throughout.
Cayuna produced 32 excellent sets and added five points.
Aiza Pontillas matched Meneses’ 14-point output, while Grethcel Soltones had 11 points. On the other hand, Jonah Sabete struggled for eight hits after an 18-point effort against F2 Logistics the last time out.
MJ Phillips added seven hits, while Nicole Tiamzon finished with five points.
It was a duel that had Petro Gazz wresting control at 21-19 in the first set and 23-21 in the last two frames.
But on each occasion, the HD Spikers responded to Delos Santos’ challenge and found a way to fight back. On the other hand, the Angels failed to check their skid that would’ve at least extended the match or turned the game around.
Down by two in the third set, Meneses ended a long rally with a push. Daquis banged away a hit to an unguarded spot in Zone 5. Then Meneses foiled a Soltones’ attack, before Araneta closed out the Angels with another push.
It was more of the same in the first two frames. The HD Spikers battled back from 19-21 down in the opener by sweeping the last six points. The highlights were three Cayuna aces, including a loaded serve that gave the prelims topnotcher a 1-0 set cushion.
“It’s all about enjoying the game,” delos Santos told his wards, who quickly tied the count on a Molina crosscourt attack and a Cayuna ace.
A Pontillas’ attack error in the ensuing play aided Cignal’s romp. Meneses put the team at set point with a block off Soltones, before Cayuna delivered another ace.
The HD Spikers faced another two-point deficit in the second set on a Meneses service miscue. But they racked up four straight points on a pair quick hits by Doria, an ace by Araneta and a power hit by Daquis.
In their three fightbacks, the HD Spikers blanked their rivals with superb floor coverage and net defense.