MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Cignal HD Spikers fought off a determined Army Black Mamba squad to complete a sweep of the group stage, Thursday afternoon at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The HD Spikers recovered from a dip in form in the second set and claimed a 25-20, 20-25, 25-17, 25-19 win, giving them a 4-0 record in Pool A of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.
Cignal HD will have a twice-to-beat advantage when they take on BaliPure, the fourth seed from Pool B, in the quarterfinals.
"Sobrang happy, kasi panalo," said Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos. "But, of course, 'yung ine-expect namin na dapat maging performance ng team, hindi 'yan 'yung [lumabas]. Kumbaga, hindi 'yun ang talagang laro namin."
"But ang good thing, naka-survive kami, na-overcome ng team namin 'yung laro," he added.
Rachel Anne Daquis starred for the HD Spikers, with 13 points, 18 digs, and 12 excellent receptions. Ria Meneses had 15 points, while Roselyn Doria scored five of her 10 points on blocks. Ces Molina, still playing on a sprained ankle, had 12 points in two sets.
After falling short in the first set, Army struck back in the second, behind the efforts of Royse Tubino and Lutgarda Malaluan. A net touch by the Lady Troopers put Cignal HD within two points, 20-18, prompting a timeout from Kungfu Reyes.
But back-to-back errors by Cignal HD -- a poor serve by Gel Cayuna and a double contact violation by Ria Meneses -- allowed Army to pull away again.
With his team playing far from his standards, Delos Santos opted to play Molina in the last two frames, a move that paid off as she overpowered the Army defense repeatedly.
The Lady Troopers got within two points in the fourth set when Tubino rejected a running hit by Meneses, but a hit by Daquis and a kill block by the HD Spikers gave them some breathing room. A mishit by Tubino also sapped the momentum from Army's rally.
"Hindi rin kami pwedeng mag-relax against Army, kasi siyempre, knowing them, experienced player din 'yung iba nilang player," said delos Santos.
Tubino was the lone player in double-digits for Army with 21 points on 18 kills, two aces, and a block. Morente added eight points, 12 digs, and 10 receptions.
Army Black Mamba finished with a 0-4 record in the group phase, and will play the losing quarterfinalists in the classification round.