After shocking reigning champion Petron in the semifinals, Cignal seeks to go all the way and win the title when it clashes with F2 Logistics in Game 1 of their Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference best-of-three finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Action erupts at 6 p.m. with the HD Spikers looking to essay a Cinderella story following a dramatic rally in this prestigious women’s club league bankrolled by Team Rebel Sports, SOGO, Eurotel, PCSO, Cocolife, UCPB Gen, Mueller, Senoh, Asics, Bizooku and One Sport.
Prior to that, Petron and Foton collide in the bronze-medal match at 4 p.m.
The HD Spikers’ journey to the finals is one for the books.
After emerging as fifth seed with a 7-7 win-loss mark, Cignal knocked down fourth seed Generika-Ayala in the quarterfinals to book a semifinal duel with Petron, the two-time champion which is coming in with a twice-to-beat advantage after posting a 13-1 card in the preliminaries.
But the HD Spikers played with hunger and intensity.
In their first encounter, veterans Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga provided the spunk, towing the HD Spikers to a heart-stopping 25-20, 10-25, 16-25, 27-25, 15-11 win that sent the series to a deciding game.
With pressure mounting on Petron, Daquis and Gonzaga stormed back, firing 22 and 17 points, respectively, as Cignal booked a dramatic 30-28, 25-21, 17-25, 23-25, 15-8 victory to complete the shocking upset late Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
This is the first time for the HD Spikers to reach the All-Filipino finals since joining the league in 2013, making their semifinal victory one of the greatest upsets in Philippine volleyball.
“This is it. We have completed our climb from fifth place to the championship,” said Cignal coach Edgar Barroga following their stunning victory that was witnessed by a large weekday crowd.
“We’re excited because we already addressed our lapses. Hopefully, our magical run continues.”
But if conquering the semifinals was hard, winning it all would be very difficult.
Blocking Cignal’s path to glory is F2 Logistics, another strong team that was made even powerful by the presence of former Arizona University star Kalei Mau.
After emerging as second seed in the quarterfinals with a 12-2 card, the Cargo Movers easily dominated lowly Sta. Lucia before crushing the towering Foton squad in the semifinals.
Now, they’re back in the finals and head coach Ramil de Jesus vowed that they would do everything to snap their three-year title drought in this mid-season conference that also has ESPN5 and Kapatid TV5 as broadcast partners.
“This is an unfinished business for us,” said de Jesus, who will bank on the veteran crew of Aby Marano, Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron and the returning Kim Fajardo to turn Cignal’s dream run into a nightmare.
“It’s been a while since we last lifted a PSL crown so my players are really eager to win this one. We prepared well for this so expect us to be at our best.”