MANILA -- Marck Espejo powered Cignal past Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography, 25-23, 25-19, 25-15, in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinals on Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Espejo finished with 19 points off a 15-of-19 attacking clip to go along with four blocks while skipper Ysay Marasigan added 13 points.
Cignal also banked on its net defense to thwart the fourth-seeded AJAA Spikers’ offense, coming through with 14 rejections against their rivals’ five-block output at the start of the round robin semis.
“I want to give credit sa mga players ko. Why? Kasi nag-perform sila nang maayos. Even though last game namin panalo kami pero medyo down, we were down kahit na 10-0 kami kasi ayun nga, may history kami na sana nagawa namin,” said HD Spikers head coach Dexter Clamor.
Clamor referred to his wards' failed bid to post a record elimination round sweep without dropping a set after the National U Volley Builders forced them to a four-game duel.
In the other game, Iloilo avenged its previous defeat to AMC-Cotabato with a 25-19, 25-22, 25-23 victory to join Cignal in the early lead in the semis.
The D’Navigators banked on their 1-2 punch in Jade Disquitado and Mfena Gwaza to hold off the Cotabao Spikers in the last two sets with the former finishing with a game-high 19 points, all on attacks while the latter adding four attacks, four aces, and three blocks for 11 points.
“Ito kasi back to zero na ‘to eh. Semis na so talagang pinag-ensayuhan namin ‘to, nag-prepare talaga kami sa game na ‘to saka siguro para sa amin din talaga ‘tong game na ‘to, binigay talaga siguro ni Lord sa amin,” said Iloilo head coach John Kenneth Panes, who wards bowed to the Cotabato Spikers in four at the close of the elims last Sunday.
Cignal and Iloilo will clash for the solo lead at resumption of the semis on Friday while Imus and Cotabato knock each other out in the other game.