MANILA, Philippines – The Cignal HD Spikers caught the last bus to the PVL Reinforced Conference semifinals after a four-set win over the Choco Mucho Flying Titans, 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14, at the PhilSports Arena on Tuesday, November 22.
Tai Bierria came off the bench to lead the win with 18 points off 14 attacks and 4 blocks, while Ces Molina scored 13 to help Cignal end the elimination round with a 5-3 record.
Roselyn Doria anchored the defense with 9 points built off 5 blocks and 4 attacks as Choco Mucho got sent packing with a 3-5 slate.
Coming off an equalizing 25-22 win in the second set, Cignal fired off a pivotal 12-6 start in the third frame, capped by a Bierria kill that coincided with top Choco Mucho local scorer Kat Tolentino going down with an apparent left knee injury.
A few possessions later, Flying Titans ace queen Des Cheng also left the floor after suffering an apparent right pinky injury. Cignal then formally punched its playoff ticket as Ria Meneses ended the set with a quick attack for the 25-18 finish.
Likely demoralized with their early elimination and consecutive injuries to their top stars, the Flying Titans lagged behind, 3-10, before Tolentino brushed off her ailment and returned to action.
Choco Mucho, however, never threatened Cignal down the stretch as the HD Spikers extended their lead up to 13, 24-11, off a Deanna Wong error, before Klarisa Abriam ended the game with one last off-the-block hit for the win.
Cheng started off strong before her untimely injury and led the team with 15 points off 12 attacks and 3 blocks, while Tolentino scored 9. Import Odina Aliyeva – after a one-game absence due to health protocols – took a back seat in the offense and tied Isa Molde with 8 points.
F2 completes sweeping rally past Petro Gazz in cardiac third-set comeback
Meanwhile, the F2 Cargo Movers saved their best for last with a 25-16, 25-22, 27-25 rout of the semifinals-bound defending champion Petro Gazz Angels.
Longtime import Lindsay Stalzer and Fil-Am star spiker Kalei Mau ran wild all over the Angels’ defense with 22 and 20 points, respectively, to help F2 wrap up with a 4-4 record in fifth place.
Mau, who is still recovering from a right shoulder injury, scored 5 of the team’s last 6 points to lift the team in the extended third set off a 12-17 deficit.
Petro Gazz import Lindsey Vander Weide and Fil-Am middle blocker MJ Phillips paced the loss with 11 points apiece as the Angels slid down to the third seed with a 5-3 slate.
The semifinals begin on Thursday, November 24, still at the PhilSports Arena with a No. 1 vs. No. 3 match between Creamline and Petro Gazz at 2:30 pm, followed by a No. 2 vs. No. 4 match between Chery Tiggo and Cignal at 5:30 pm.
PLDT finished the elimination round in sixth place, followed by Choco Mucho at seventh, and Akari in eighth – all with identical 3-5 records but different point totals. UAI-Army rounded out the standings with a winless 0-8 slate for ninth place. – Rappler.com