By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After three years and 16 games, the formidable Cignal men’s volleyball squad finally tasted its first defeat.
During one of the most highly-anticipated clashes in the ongoing 2022 Spikers’ Turf men’s volleyball league, the PGJC-Navy team did the unthinkable and took down the defending champion Cignal team in just four sets, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23.
Jao Umandal was a man on a mission and tallied a game-high 18 points and put up one of his best offensive performances against the best team in the league.
The high-flying opposite spiker went toe-to-toe against his former national teammates and scored the finishing attack in the fourth set.
Despite a shaky start by the Navy team after dropping the first set, the streak stoppers were quick to bounce back and banked on their varied offensive sets that kept Cignal guessing most of the time.
EJ Casana was also a key contributor during the win and orchestrated the Navy offense with fluidity after recording 18 excellent sets.
The Umandal-Casana connection worked wonders during the last two sets that saw the Cignal middle blockers struggling to stop the Navy attack.
Marck Espejo tried all that he could to spark Cignal in the last set but his heroics weren’t enough as he finished the intense matchup with 17 points.
It was a win to remember for the Navy team after the Cignal kicked off its winning streak at the start of the 2019 Reinforced Conference semifinals.
Since then, the kings of the Spikers’ Turf never lost a match until meeting the explosive Navy team led by Umandal and Casana.