By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Cignal HD Spikers officially clinched their spot in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference after ousting the Choco Mucho Flying Titans, 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14, last November 22, 2023.
Needing that one last win to put themselves in the Final Four, the HD Spikers went all out and survived a shaky start after the Flying Titans shocked them in the first set.
Des Cheng and Choco Mucho were off to a rousing start and exposed Cignal’s backline defense lapses but the HD Spikers came back roaring in the second set courtesy of Tai Bierria’s timely attacks.
Cignal’s American reinforcement put her imprints early in the second set and put on an offensive clinic in front of the Choco Mucho fans.
After hitting three consecutive cross-court kills that pumped up the whole Cignal bench, Bierria suddenly went berserk and unloaded big spikes that shifted the momentum on their side.
Bierria paced the HD Spikers after dropping a game-high 18 points built from 14 successful attacks along with 11 excellent digs, four blocks, and three excellent receptions.
“Una, medyo feel talaga namin yung pressure nung first set. Ganun din yung team, kailangan kasi ma-overcome namin yun e. Kita namain yung galaw, ‘di naman yun yung team namin kung paano maglaro,” said Cignal head coach Shaq delos Santos.
Bierria’s energy then went contagious and sparked the other locals, especially veteran hitter Ces Molina who answered the call in the third set.
The former national team member unloaded 13 big points and scored three crucial answered spikes when the Flying Titans attempted to mount a run in the third.
Cignal’s 1-2 punch in the middle blocking department, Rosa Doria and Ria Meneses, also chipped in offensively and scored nine and eight points, respectively.
The Flying Titans had their chances in the match but injury woes halted their one last final run after Kat Tolentino and Cheng went down.
Tolentino had to sit out for several minutes after injuring her knee but came back in the fourth set. On the other hand, Cheng, felt something in her right small finger and never came back.
The HD Spikers will be kicking off its PVL Reinforced Conference semis campaign today as they battle the Chery Tiggo Pro Crossovers in the last game of the scheduled doubleheader.