PVL: Cignal HD completes semis cast, ousts Choco Mucho

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2022 04:47 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2022 05:47 PM

Cignal HD celebrates after scoring against Choco Mucho in their PVL Reinforced Conference game. PVL Media.
Cignal HD celebrates after scoring against Choco Mucho in their PVL Reinforced Conference game. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Cignal HD completed the semifinals cast of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, after dismissing Choco Mucho in four sets on Tuesday afternoon at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

In front of a crowd of over 4,000 fans, the HD Spikers recovered from a slow start and showed great poise in the second set en route to a 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 victory.

They finished the elimination round with a 5-3 win-loss record, while the Flying Titans settled for a 3-5 slate. 

Cignal HD wrapped up the Final 4 spot the moment they won the third set, as Choco Mucho entered the game needing to win in three or four sets in order to claim the semis seat.

American import Tai Bierria led Cignal HD with 18 points on 14 kills and four blocks along with 11 digs, while Ces Molina added 13 points and nine digs. Rose Doria scored five of her nine points on kill blocks, and Ria Meneses added eight points. 

"Very proud doon sa team, especially doon sa mga players kasi grabe din 'yun naging effort namin, sa preparation namin, and especially doon sa game na binigay nila 'yung best nila," said Cignal HD coach Shaq delos Santos. "Nasunod 'yung game plan namin."

After dropping the opening set, the HD Spikers showed great resolve in the second frame where they erased a slim lead to take a 23-19 advantage, with Bierria anchoring a 4-0 run that put them in control. 

A Gel Cayuna service error broke Cignal HD's momentum, but they came up with a huge rejection of Choco Mucho import Odina Aliyeva in the next rally to reach set point, 24-20. Back-to-back hits from Aliyeva kept the Flying Titans alive, but Maddie Madayag sent her next serve long to gift the winner to the HD Spikers, 25-22.

"Na-realize nila na wake-up call talaga 'yung first set. And then 'yun, naging maganda na 'yung result ng game namin," said delos Santos.

The Flying Titans were dealt a brutal hand in the third set, however. Top spiker Kat Tolentino hurt her left knee while going for a dig with her team down 6-12, and had to be helped off the court. Desiree Cheng exited late as well, hurting her right pinky finger while Choco Mucho trailed 14-20. 

The HD Spikers cruised to a 25-18 win in the third set, formally ousting Choco Mucho from contention and clinching their own semis berth. 

Cignal HD went on to dominate the fourth period, leading by as much as 13 points, 24-11, off an over-reaching violation by Deanna Wong. The Flying Titans saved three match points, but a crosscourt hit by Klarisa Abriam wrapped up the match in two hours and four minutes in the HD Spikers' favor. 

Cheng had 15 points in three sets, built on 12 hits and three kills. Tolentino returned in the fourth set, finishing with nine points. Aliyeva played just two full sets and finished with eight points, all on kills. The Flying Titans also gave away 28 points to Cignal HD off their unforced errors.

The HD Spikers will still have to wait for the result of the last preliminary round game between PetroGazz and F2 Logistics to determine their seeding in the semifinals. Cignal HD joined Creamline (7-1), Chery Tiggo (6-2) and Petro Gazz (5-2) in the Final 4.