PVL: Undermanned Cignal shocks PLDT to take bronze

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2022 05:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2022 07:16 PM

The Cignal HD Spikers celebrate after completing a come-from-behind win against PLDT. PVL Media.
The Cignal HD Spikers celebrate after completing a come-from-behind win against PLDT. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (2nd UPDATE) Cignal HD, playing without two key cogs, still had enough in the tank to take the bronze medal in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference.

The HD Spikers recovered from a two-set deficit to break the hearts of PLDT, 17-25, 20-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-5 on Sunday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.

This is the second straight conference that Cignal has reached the podium, having also placed third in the Open Conference in May.
The HD Spikers were without ace spiker Ces Molina and top blocker Ria Meneses for the match due to health and safety protocols, but drew big games from their available players to make up for their absence.

Veteran spiker Rachel Anne Daquis had 16 points, including the match-winner, while Roselyn Doria scored nine of her 14 points on kill blocks, and Jerrili Malabanan added 13 points. The HD Spikers were out-gunned, 67-48, but drew 34 free points off PLDT's errors.

"Grabe, sumuot kami sa butas ng karayom. As in, 'yung pinagdaanan namin kanina, napalitan namin ng magandang ending, which is 'yun naman 'yung goal namin," said Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos after the match. 

"Sobrang slow start talaga kami," he added. "But sobrang proud ako doon sa team namin. Grabe 'yung effort. Effort talaga, na pinush nila 'yung sarili nila hanggang sa dulo."

PLDT appeared headed for a quick win after taking the first two sets then surging to a 13-4 lead in the third frame, with Cignal HD struggling to get going offensively. But the High Speed Hitters' errors changed the complexion of the game, as PLDT committed three straight miscues that knotted the count at 20.

It was Doria who completed the comeback for Cignal HD, blocking Chin Basas to put her team at set point, 26-25, before putting away an over-passed ball to send the match to a fourth. 

They again showed their composure in the fourth set, taking a 22-19 lead then surviving a last ditch rally by the High Speed Hitters to force a decider. They reached set point, 24-22, off a PLDT error, before Glaudine Troncoso fired the hit to seal the win.

Gel Cayuna then put her stamp on the game in the fifth, scoring three aces early to anchor the HD Spikers' 6-0 start. PLDT was never able to recover from the brutal start, and Cignal HD went on to win the do-or-die set comfortably.

"Sabi ko, grabe 'yung pinagdaanan natin, 'yung pinaghirapan natin. Tatanggapin ba natin na ganoon na lang kadali, para matalo tayo? Or pwede nating baguhin 'yung ending nito?" delos Santos said of his challenge to the HD Spikers during the third set.

"Deep inside, I'm sure na tinanggap nila 'yun in a positive way, and nakita naman natin 'yung result. Kaya sobrang happy ako sa kanila," he added.

Cayuna finished with seven points and 20 excellent sets in the win. As a team, Cignal HD had seven aces, four of which came in the fifth. Doria's nine blocks were the most by a player in the conference. 

Five players reached double-digits for PLDT, led by Mika Reyes with 19 points, including six blocks. Dell Palomata scored all 17 of her points on attacks, while Erika Santos had 11 points. But the High Speed Hitters once again lacked the finishing kick, squandering a big lead in the third and faltering down the stretch of the fourth.

It was yet another painful defeat for the High Speed Hitters, who went 1-4 in five-set matches throughout the conference.