PVL: Coach hopes Cignal will be at full strength for semis

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2022 03:56 PM

Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos addresses the HD Spikers during a break in action. PVL Images.
Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos addresses the HD Spikers during a break in action. PVL Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- Cignal HD will enter the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference on the heels of back-to-back losses, but this slump has not dented their coach's confidence.

Shaq delos Santos remains optimistic of their chances in the tournament as he hopes to have a full-strength squad for the semifinal, which starts for them on Thursday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The HD Spikers had only nine players available last Saturday, when they wrapped up the elimination round with a four-set loss to PLDT. Missing were Ces Molina (right ankle), along with Rachel Anne Daquis, Jerrili Malabanan, Ayel Estranero, Chai Troncoso, and Roselyn Doria (health and safety protocols).

"Siyempre, nagfa-follow kami sa protocols," delos Santos said after his side took a 19-25, 20-25, 25-21, 22-25 defeat to end up with a 4-2 record in the elimination round.

"Performance-wise, nakakatuwa 'yung mga players namin. Talagang kahit ganoon 'yung na-encounter namin, still focused, and laban ng laban kami," he added. "Sabi ko nga sa kanila, napakagandang opportunity na maglaro sila the whole game, and makita namin kung ano 'yung pwede naming ma-discover sa team."

Estranero, Doria, and Troncoso are expected to be cleared to return to practice already, while Daquis and Malabanan will join by Wednesday, ahead of their game on Thursday -- a rematch against PLDT.

Molina was present at the playing venue on Saturday but the prolific spiker was wearing a walking boot on her right ankle after suffering a sprain against Petro Gazz last July 26.

"Sa ngayon, okay naman siya," delos Santos said of Molina. "Nagpapagaling lang. Hopefully, in God's will, makalaro siya ng Thursday."

Molina's sprain is "not too serious," the coach said, and the boot is a precautionary measure.

"Pero siyempre, may pain pa rin daw," delos Santos. "Hopefully, maging okay by Thursday, maging okay na siya."

The undermanned HD Spikers got 15 points from Klarisa Abriam and 14 from Angeli Araneta in their loss to the High Speed Power Hitters. Also drawing praise was Marist Layug, who rushed from her graduation ceremony and made it in time to play in the second set. She finished with five points.

"Hopefully, maging healthy na lahat kami, kasi ang hirap," said delos Santos, who had only recently welcomed back setter Gel Cayuna from health protocols as well. 

"Grabe 'yung na-encounter namin, pero kami, ina-accept namin in a positive way," he added. "Alam ko na may magandang purpose din si Lord. Kailangan lang namin maging strong, and talagang laban ng laban."