By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Cignal HD Spikers overcame a shaky regular-season start to clinch their third-straight Spikers’ Turf grand finals appearance after sweeping the talented PGCJ-Navy team in the semifinals, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20.
Cignal displayed one of its best volleyball performances of the Open Conference and completed its redemption tour against the Navy who earlier stunned them during their last encounter.
The HD Spikers this time wouldn’t let their early lead slip away and capitalized on every error the Navy committed.
Marck Espejo, who didn’t play in their last game due to an Achilles injury, returned to boost his team and led the HD Spikers with 16 points built from 11 successful attacks.
Aside from Espejo’s offensive prowess, the former national team superstar also had an all-around game and added 21 excellent receptions, seven digs, four blocks, and one service ace.
“Talagang pinaghirapan namin, pinaghirapan ng team talaga. It’s really a collective effort of everybody kaya kami nanalo,” said HD Spikers head coach Dexter Clamor.
It was all Cignal from start to finish as their combined intensity on the offensive end was matched with their patience on the defensive end.
The veteran duo of Ysay Marasigan and JP Bugaoan then finished what Espejo started in the first set and carried the Cignal offense in the last set.
Marasigan contributed 14 big points for the HD Spikers while the towering Bugaoan added 10 points including two blocks.
Meanwhile, Jao Umandal, Navy’s superstar, was only limited to five points in what was one of his most disappointing offensive productions of the 2022 Spikers’ Turf.
With the win, the stacked HD Spikers squad will have the chance to bounce back against the younger NU-Sta. Elena volleyball team in the finals that also got the better of them during their past match.