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Cignal strikes back, crushes SLR

Veteran Rachel Daquis of Cignal HD Spikers unloads a kill against Sta. Lucia’s Dell Palomata and Rubie de Leon during Wednesday PVL Open Conference at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra in Ilocos Norte.

Cignal HD picked itself up from a sluggish debut against Chery Tiggo last Monday and got up from a third set stumble to pound out a 25-22 25-18, 13-25, 25-20 victory over Sta. Lucia on Wednesday in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra in Ilocos Norte.

The HD Spikers, behind Rose Doria’s superb all-around play, swept the first two sets in varying fashions but played listlessly in the next, enabling the fired-up Realtors to dominate through MJ Philips and Jovie Prado and extend the match.

But Cignal came out of the fourth frame back in high spirits, wresting control early then pulling through in a duel of spurts as the HD Spikers frustrated their rivals with clutch hits, gritty floor coverage and net defense from almost about everybody coach Shaq delos Santos had fielded in.

But Doria stood out in the end, finishing with 14 hits, including five attack points and the same number of kill blocks and four aces as she emerged the game’s best player to steer the team to its first pro victory after dropping a three-set defeat to the Crossovers last Monday.

The loss was Sta. Lucia’s second in three starts, dropping the team down in the rankings among 10 teams chasing the top four berths in the single round elimination.

MJ Philips, Jovie Prado and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas powered the Lady Realtors to their big third set romp but the HD Spikers virtually shut down the prolific troika in the fourth as they raced to a 9-4 bulge on a Janine Marciano hit.

The Lady Realtors, however, strung up four straight points to threaten within one but Philips served long and the HD Spikers pounced on another Sta. Lucia miscue, allowing Cignal to sit on a three-point cushion again on a Fiola Ceballos’ blast coupled with Philips’ attack error against Doria’s service miscue.

Setter Djanel Cheng kept Sta. Lucia in the hunt on a 1-2 play but Cignal racked up five straight hits, highlighted by Doria’s couple of blocks, and the HD Spikers held sway after Jonah Sabete put the Lady Realtors back in the game, 18-21, on a vicious attack and an ace.

The HD Spikers, however, proved steadier, taking four of the last six points on a Dell Palomate net violation, a running attack by Norielle Ipac and a couple of Ceballos attacks, the last an off-the-block hit that ended the one-hour, 44-minute encounter.

“We adjusted quickly. Imagine we only had a day break (after a loss to Chery Tiggo) and then we played again,” said delos Santos. “The good thing is our preparation is paying off and hopefully we continue to improve and maintain our performance.”

Mariano matched Doria’s 14-hit output while May Luna came through with 10 points and skipper Rachel Daquis and Ipac backed them up with eight hits apiece for Cignal, which drew 18 excellent sets from Arielle Estranero.

Cheng actually bettered that performance with 28 excellent sets but Sta. Lucia still fell short of its bid despite the 20 points from Philips and a combined 26-hit effort from Maizo-Pontillas and Prado.

Meanwhile, fancied Creamline and tough Chery Tiggo set out against separate rivals today (Thursday) hoping to ride the crest of an inspiring start and build up for their much-awaited clash on Sunday.

Image courtesy of Jan Angelo Faustin Rosales
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