In a battle of two Superliga heavyweights, it was the Cignal HD Spikers who were able to carve out a five-set victory, 26-24, 20-25, 26-24, 13-25, 15-9, against the Foton Tornadoes, Saturday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, yung first game ang pinakamahirap sa lahat. Dapat umpisahan namin ng maganda tapos tapusin din ng maganda,” said head coach George Pascua, who was making his debut with Cignal.
Reigning Invitational Cup MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga made a successful debut with the HD Spikers, leading the team with 17 points.
“Kalahati ng team na ito galing ibang team last year. Ang importante dito ay ma-develop yung chemistry at mag-jell. Yun lang naman objective namin,” Pascua added. “Kung nag-jell na yan, madali ng gumalaw.”
After Cignal ground out a tough first set, confusion ensued for Pascua and the HD Spikers, as the team’s composition did not fit in the league’s new second set rule.
“Yung concern ko kanina, yung setter ko panu yun? Gagawin kong spiker? Sabi ko, puwede namang exception yun dahil wala akong player na papalit dun,” shared Pascua.
Cignal’s second unit mightily struggled in the second frame, as San Sebastian standout Kath Villegas towed Foton to a second set win.
Once again, the HD Spikers, behind Rachel Daquis and Mylene Paat, were able to dig deep in the third frame but gassed out in the fourth set to send the game into do-or-die.
Paat and new addition Daquis added 11 and 10 markers respectively for the HD Spikers.
Cignal were able to break away late, mostly due to Foton’s errors. A drop by Gonzaga, followed by a Grethcel Soltones error and a Paat kill, sent the HD Spikers at match point. A kill block at the expense of Dindin Santiago-Manabat sealed the win for Cignal.
“Pag sinabi nating Foton, tataas ang self confidence pag natalo yan. Ang target kasi namin Petron at Foton kasi yun yung malakas. Lahat naman ng team malakas pero sila yung na-identify na malakas,” the former PSL coach of the year said about the breakthrough win.
Cignal had 41 errors in the game compared to just 35 for Foton.
Manabat paced Foton with 21 markers, 16 coming from attacks, 2 from blocks, and 2 from aces. Soltones also made a mark in her PSL debut with 15 points.
It doesn’t get easier for Cignal as they take on the Petron Blaze Spikers on Thursday, March 9, at the Filoil Flying V Centre at 5:00pm. Foton, on the other hand, take on league neophytes Cocolife Asset Managers on the same day at 3:00pm.
Cignal (3) – Gonzaga 17, Paat 11, Daquis 10, Marciano 7, Tubino 6, Vivas 6, Saet 4, Mercado 2, Morada 1, Delos Santos 1, Macatuno 0, Patilano 0, Cortel L, Dionela L.
Foton (2) – Manabat 21, Soltones 15, Perez 10, Ortiz 8, Villegas 7, Torres 3, De Leon 1, Barrinuevo 0, Yongco 0, Sindayen 0, Reyes (L)