PVL: Cignal tightens grip on top spot after downing Creamline

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2022 08:02 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2022 08:38 PM

The Cignal HD Spikers are still unbeaten in the PVL Invitational Conference. PVL Media.
The Cignal HD Spikers are still unbeaten in the PVL Invitational Conference. PVL Media.

STA. ROSA, Laguna -- (UPDATED) Cignal HD remains the No. 1 team in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference after an impressive win against the Creamline Cool Smashers, Thursday at the Sta. Rosa Complex.

The HD Spikers improved to 4-0 in the tournament, thanks to a thrilling 25-21, 26-24, 14-25, 25-22 win against the Cool Smashers, who suffered their first defeat.

Gel Cayuna made a triumphant comeback after sitting out Cignal's previous game, putting up six points and 17 excellent sets while making the big plays in the end game for the HD Spikers. Three players scored in double-digits for Cignal HD, with Ces Molina tallying 15 points, Glaudine Troncoso adding 11, and Rachel Anne Daquis scoring 10.

"Siyempre, hindi mo siya pwedeng i-expect, especially 'yung defending champion 'yung kalaban mo," said Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos, after his team ended Creamline's 10-match winning streak dating back to the PVL Invitational Conference.

"Ako, sobrang happy and proud sa mga players namin," he added. "Alam namin kasi 'yung kayang gawin ng Creamline, and sobrang nire-respect namin sila."

The HD Spikers snatched the opening frame,. thanks to Ria Meneses, who registered back-to-back blocks of Tots Carlos and Alyssa Valdez to fend off Creamline's rally. But the Cool Smashers appeared poised to equalize after racing out to an 18-11 lead in the second set.

The Cool Smashers reached set point, 24-21, on an offspeed hit by Carlos but it was all Cignal HD from there. Creamline committed three consecutive errors: a poor serve by Carlos, and back-to-back attack faults by Carlos and Valdez that knotted the count at 24.

Jerrili Malabanan, who came off the bench for Daquis midway through the set, fired a down-the-line hit to put Cignal at set point. Meneses again came up with a defensive gem in the final rally, rejecting Risa Sato in the middle to give her team a 2-0 lead.

Creamline made sure that there would be no collapse in the third set as they won comfortably, 25-14, to set up a thrilling fourth frame that saw the two protagonists trade points. Neither team could take control in Set 4, but it was Cignal HD that proved to be more poised in the closing stretch.

Cayuna, in particular, was superb in the clutch as her gutsy 1-2 play put the HD Spikers ahead for good, 23-22. She then fired up an ace to put her team at match point, and another sharp serve to start the next rally led to a poor reception by Creamline. Daquis was there at the top of the net to put the ball away, completing the huge win for the HD Spikers.

"Muscle memory lang talaga, kaya nagawa ko pa rin 'yung dapat na gawin," said Cayuna, who was cleared to play on Wednesday. 

It was a well-fought affair that saw Creamline take a 56-38 advantage in kills, but the HD Spikers beat them in blocks, 13-7, and aces, 7-5. The Cool Smashers also gave away 32 points off their errors.

Creamline dropped to 2-1 in the conference, after losing for the first time since the 2021 PVL Open Conference finals. They are back in action on Saturday against Choco Mucho at the Mall of Asia Arena.