CIGNAL has endured a lot of tests to earn a crack at a breakthrough Premier Volleyball League championship.
On the brink in a short best-of-three series, the HD Spikers aren’t rattled one bit, confident of bouncing back and forcing a winner-take-all for the Reinforced Conference crown.
Despite dropping Game One in straight-set fashion, 21-25, 25-27, 35-37, last Thursday, they knew breaks just didn’t go their way, particularly in the last two sets that saw the Angels pull through in a pair of pressure-packed endgames while flashing championship experience.
Playing in the finals for the first time also took their toll on the HD Spikers, who however, expect to learn a lot from their first finals foray with renewed confidence and hunger that make champion teams when Game Two is played tomorrow at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
But to send the series into a knockout affair and give themselves a clear shot at a maiden PVL crown, the HD Spikers need to step up their attack, improve on their passing and floor and net defense.
While slowing down the heavy-hitting Lindsey Vander Weide would be on top of their to-do list, the Cignal locals must also provide the firepower lacking in the series’ opener that saw import Tai Bierria emerge as the lone player to produce a double-digit output of 18 points.
While Ces Molina had nine points, Roselyn Doria added eight markers, Chay Troncoso, Angeli Araneta and Riri Meneses chipped in seven points apiece, and Rachel Anne Daquis came up with five points in a two-set stint, many believe they could still produce more, not just in offense but in all aspects of the game.
With Vander Weide on the firing end, the Angels outhit the HD Spikers, 60-53, actually not a glaring disparity but so key in a tight, fierce duel. Petro Gazz also had seven blocks, two more than Cignal, and scored 19 points off unforced errors while yielding 15 of their own.
Cignal, meanwhile, cashed in on Petro Gazz’s wobbly service reception, scoring eight aces while giving up three but the Angels shone with 48 excellent digs, including 15 from Shiela Pineda, against the HD Spikers’ 29.
While Cignal’s Gel Cayuna matched counterpart Djanel Cheng’s 18 excellent set performance, the latter also got the better of the former in the clutch, coming through with key feeds that led to a series of Vander Weide’s power blasts, including six at the finish.
In a close battle, one also must start out strong and Cignal could opt for its best six right from the get-go to counter whatever edge Petro Gazz has in firepower.
Otherwise, the Angels could be heading to a repeat of their Game One feat and a reprise of their 2019 title conquest of the Creamline Cool Smashers.