AMC-Cotabato bowed to Cignal in four sets to end the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference round-robin semifinals, 17-25, 21-25, 25-22, 23-25, Monday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
But with the Cotabato Spikers’ clutch third set and a close overall tally, they still advanced to the Finals due to a superior points ratio over Iloilo which will face Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography for bronze.
AMC will clash anew with the still-undefeated HD Spikers in a best-of-three championship series beginning on Wednesday at the same venue.
Even though they lost, Jau Umandal said they have proven something – that Cignal can be beaten, even just for a set.
The HD Spikers have only dropped two sets in the entire tournament.
“Kaya. Actually kaya talaga,” quipped Umandal on stunning Cignal.
“Kukunin lang talaga sa tiyaga, pasensiya saka tiyaga. Kinulang kami sa tiyaga nung fourth set, nagmadali kami, nawala kami sa set play namin kaya medyo nagchoke kami nung dulo,” said the national team player who had 20 points.
In the third frame that AMC won, it was Umandal and Filipino-American Steven Rotter that joined hands in the finishing kick to force an extension.
For Umandal, that could have been the start of their upset trail but the HD Spikers were just too composed down the stretch.
During Cotabato and Cignal’s matchup in the elimination round, the latter emerged victorious with a straight-sets win but Rotter was not yet with the team at that time.
“May momentum na kami nung third set hanggang fourth talagang nagkamali lang kami sa dulo, sa dulo kami nawala kaya medyo nagstop kami,” said Umandal.
With this four-set loss, the 6-foot-2 open spiker is already looking to finally break that armor of Cignal that has yet to receive much damage this conference.
Last season, it was Umandal who led PGJC-Navy to an upset win over the HD Spikers in the elimination round, Cignal’s first loss in three years, before National University ended Cignal’s reign in the finals.
“Service receive talaga kailangang pagtibayan. Ngayon kahit anong pilit ko talagang wala. Siguro magkaroon lang ulit ng kumpyansa pumasa. May kumpyansa naman kailangan lang talaga gawin in the real game,” added Umandal on what they need to improve on.