Untouchable Cignal sealed the top spot heading into the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinals with a 25-19, 25-22, 25-15 sweep of suddenly-struggling Iloilo, Friday night at the Paco Arena.
The HD Spikers raised their undefeated record to 9-0. They will look to earn a rare sweep of the elimination round on March 19 against lowly National University-Archipelago.
“All I can say is maganda yung performance ng team. Yan ang gusto namin, talagang makita na kahit pasok na sa semifinals… Kailangan talaga maka-gain kami ng respect sa kalaban, lalo na yan Iloilo possible na makasama sila sa semis,” said head coach Dexter Clamor.
Marck Espejo netted 16 points spread through 12 attacks, two blocks, and two aces. JP Bugaoan and Wendel Miguel chimed in 11 apiece, with the latter lacing his performance with nine excellent receptions and seven digs.
Libero Manuel Sumanguid took care of the floor defense with 14 excellent receptions and 11 digs. Meanwhile, EJ Casaña tallied 16 excellent sets in the game that lasted just 75 minutes.
After Bugaoan’s off-the-block kill that sent the HD Spikers to set point in the second, D’Navigator Jerome Cordez answered back with a spike of the same fashion. But Chu Njigha blocked Jade Disquitado’s ensuing attempt to give Cignal the 2-0 lead, 25-22.
Then it was all Cignal in the third, leading by as much as 11 to silence Iloilo, which just came from a heartbreaking five-setter loss to Imus.
“Mga beterano na ito eh, lalo na yung mga dating national team players. So diyan talaga nila naipapakita yung maturity nila, na kahit sa huli, dumidikit yung laban. Bago matapos nakikita talaga kung sinong mas matibay,” added Clamor on the ability of his team to close tight sets.
Cordez had 16 points for D’Navigators, while Disquitado chalked up 10 points of his own along with 10 excellent receptions.
Iloilo will have Vanguard on the other side of the net on March 17 before facing AMC-Cotabato on the 19th. The D’Navigators must win at least one of their two remaining games for at least a playoff for the fourth spot.