Stopped on its tracks by a resurgent F2 Logistics side in the third set, Cignal HD responded to the challenge and pulled off another shock 25-14, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18 triumph to zero in on the top Group A spot in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila yesterday.
The HD Spikers oddly dominated the first two sets but blew the chance to essay a sweep of one of the most feared teams in the league on a late third set meltdown. But they put their act together in the next, breaking off a tight duel midway through then building enough cushion to complete the one-hour, 42-minute victory for a 2-0 mark.
The win came on the heels of Cignal’s similar four-set reversal over defending champion Chery Tiggo last Wednesday, their sweep of their first two games eclipsing their dismal one-win performance in the league’s inaugural pro season in Ilocos Norte last year.
“I’m so proud of this team, but we really prepared hard for this. We executed well and so happy the others performed well,” said Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos, whose wards also bucked the sidelining of top hitter Ces Molina, who sustained an ankle injury early in the fourth after landing on Kim Dy’s foot.
But the HD Spikers used that setback as a rallying point as they took six of the next 10 points to pad a shaky two-point lead to a 15-10 cushion. And unlike in the third set where they squandered a 13-8 lead to enable the Cargo Movers to extend the match, the HD Spikers held sway behind Jerrili Malabanan, Roselyn Doria, Ria Meneses, Rachel Ann Daquis, Angeli Araneta and the gutsy plays of setter Gel Cayuna and libero Angelique Dionela.
Molina and Daquis unloaded 13 points apiece, Meneses fired 12 hits, mostly on quick plays and brilliant tap-ins, while Doria and Araneta added nine and five hits, respectively, and Cayuna came through with seven points on top of 18 excellent sets to clinch the best of the game honors.
Tin Tiamzon topscored for F2 with 15 points as Kim Dy struggled in the early going before finishing with 11 hits while Aby Maraño fired 10 points, majority of which she pumped in their big third set rebound.
The Cargo Movers, who held off the Army Lady Troopers in four in their PVL debut last Wednesday then swept the Crossovers last Friday, slipped to 2-1.
Meanwhile, Group B action heats up today (Monday) with Petro Gazz and Creamline clashing with PLDT and BaliPure, respectively, in virtual tune-ups for their explosive faceoff in the penultimate playdate of the compact elims Wednesday.
The Angels turned back the Water Defenders in four while the Cool Smashers dominated the High Speed Hitters in three last Thursday with the winning teams tipped to score repeats as they switch opponents in the fifth playdate of the single round, daily elims of the tournament compressed to a four-week schedule to make way for the training of the national team building up for the SEA Games in Hanoi in May.
Petro Gazz, bannered by Rem Palma, MJ Phillips, Aiza Pontillas and Grethcel Soltones, take on PLDT at 3 p.m. while Creamline, boasting of an intact roster headed by many-time MVP Alyssa Valdez, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza and Jia Morado, slugs it out with BaliPure at 6 p.m.
But the High Speed Hitters, led by Mika Reyes, Dell Palomata and Jovielyn Prado, and the Water Defenders, whose campaign is anchored on Janine Marciano, Gen Casugod, Rapril Aguilar, Bernadette Flora, are both raring to bounce back and build some kind of momentum for the knockout quarterfinal phase.
Matches are aired live on One Sports and One Sports Plus and on social media platforms Cignal Play, Gigaplay, KUMU and pvl.ph.