PVL: Tough group a benefit to surging Cignal HD, says coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2022 09:49 PM | Updated as of Mar 25 2022 10:25 AM

Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos gives instructions to Rachel Anne Daquis during their game against Army Black Mamba. PVL Media Bureau.
Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos gives instructions to Rachel Anne Daquis during their game against Army Black Mamba. PVL Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- Being drawn in a tough group had its advantages for the Cignal HD Spikers, who have emerged unscathed in Pool A of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

After winning just one game last season, the HD Spikers found themselves in a loaded group that also featured defending champion Chery Tiggo, Final 4 team Choco Mucho, and the veteran-laden Army Black Mamba.

F2 Logistics, making its PVL debut, was also in Pool A. The league had used a serpentine system to form the groups, based on last year's rankings.

"Noong nakita din namin 'yung sa bracket namin, mas na-inspired kami na magpa-kundisyon. Kasi parang hindi ka talaga pwedeng mag-petiks ng ensayo," said Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos.

The HD Spikers proved to be the surprise package of the group stage. They opened their campaign by stunning the Crossovers in four sets, then pulled an upset of the powerhouse Cargo Movers. They handed Choco Mucho their first loss of the group round, before completing a sweep by beating Army on Thursday afternoon.

Delos Santos has gotten a resurgent campaign from veteran Rachel Anne Daquis, while new additions like middle blocker Ria Meneses and wing spiker Ces Molina have been superb. 

"Napakagandang elimination round para sa amin 'to, kasi na-test talaga 'yung team namin," said the coach. "Marami kami natutunan, so mas magiging inspired kami, and magpu-push pa pagdating ng quarterfinals."

Daquis, who had a superb all-around game of 13 points, 18 digs and 12 receptions against Army, said it was a "blessing" to be in what can be considered a pool of death.

"Kumbaga, nahasa talaga 'yung skills namin dito," she noted.

With a perfect 4-0 record after the group stage, the HD Spikers will be armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals where they will take on winless BaliPure, the fourth-seed in Pool B.

Delos Santos knows his team will be well-scouted in the playoffs after such an impressive campaign, but he believes their experiences in the group stage have prepared them for this new challenge.

"Mas kailangan naming i-triplehin 'yung effort na gagawin namin this time. Kasi siyempre, every game napaka-importante, lalo ngayon, quarterfinals," he said. "Hindi namin kailangan na parang maging relaxed dahil twice-to-beat."

"Siguro, kung kaya naming gawin ng isang game, better. Pero siyempre, hindi siya magiging madali, so talagang paghihirapan talaga namin, and maghahanda kami," he added.