Premier Volleyball League

Cignal sends PVL semis statement with PLDT rout; Petro, Foton win classifications

JR Isaga

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Cignal sends PVL semis statement with PLDT rout; Petro, Foton win classifications

THE FINISHER. Cignal spiker Ces Molina attempts an attack over the PLDT defense in the 2023 PVL Invitational Conference semifinals

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In-form Cignal makes light work of shorthanded sister team PLDT to kick off the PVL Invitational Conference semifinals, while Petro Gazz and Foton win their classification matches

MANILA, Philippines – The Cignal HD Spikers continued to peak at the right time in the 2023 PVL Invitational Conference, kicking off their semifinal campaign with a 25-22, 25-15, 25-21 sweep of shorthanded sister team PLDT High Speed Hitters at the PhilSports Arena on Thursday, July 20.

Ces Molina, one of the league’s leading scorers of the conference, led the statement win with 17 points, backstopped with 12 points from Jovelyn Gonzaga and 15 excellent sets from Gel Cayuna.

Following a second-set blowout for a commanding two-set lead, Cignal fended off PLDT’s early comeback attempt with a tying 3-0 run from down 9-12 before eventually seizing an 18-17 lead off a Molina return hit from an overreception.

Overall, Molina scored 6 points in Cignal’s crucial 8-3 surge from a 16-17 lead, as Roselyn Doria capped the rally with two big blocks on the way to match point, 24-20.

Molina briefly dampened the finishing run with an attack error, but PLDT setter Rhea Dimaculangan then responded with a match-ending net touch on a 1-2 play attempt to seal Cignal’s fourth straight win.

Despite the streak, however, the HD Spikers only have a 1-1 record in the semifinals due to an elimination record pool phase carry-over rule similar to the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup.

Prior to its winning run, Cignal dropped its Pool B opening-day match against fellow semifinalist F2 Logistics, thus giving the HD Spikers a 0-1 record disadvantage and the Cargo Movers a 1-0 jump entering the playoffs.

“Again, I’m thankful and blessed with the guidance of the Lord. The whole game, we still had a lot of lapses, but it’s a good thing we got this game in three sets,” said Cignal head coach Shaq delos Santos in Filipino.

No PLDT player breached double-digit scoring as Fiola Ceballos led the losing cause with 8 points. Captain Mika Reyes, Mich Morente, and Royse Tubino, meanwhile, all added 7 points apiece as the High Speed Hitters continue to adjust without injured cog Jovy Prado, who tore her ACL before the semis.

Still to come in the quadruple-header slate is a 6:30 pm blockbuster nightcap between F2 and the defending champion Creamline Cool Smashers.

Petro Gazz, Foton end conference on a high

Meanwhile, the Petro Gazz Angels denied a five-set reverse sweep by the Akari Chargers, 25-19, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25, 15-7, to clinch ninth place in the 13-team field.

Grethcel Soltones led the way with 19 points, 14 excellent receptions, and 11 excellent digs, while Jonah Sabete scored 15 all off attacks.

Eli Soyud paced the loss also with a game-high 19 points off 16 attacks and 3 blocks, while seldom-used blocker Erika Raagas showed off her potential with 14 points.

In the curtain-raiser of the quadruple-header, the Foton Tornadoes ended their first conference from a near four-year hiatus on a high note with a four-set win to clinch 11th place over the Quezon City Gerflor Defenders, 26-24, 13-25, 25-21, 26-24.

Captain Shaya Adorador topscored with 22 points off 17 attacks, 3 aces, and 2 blocks to go with 13 excellent receptions as Seth Rodriguez backstopped with 13 points.

Former UP standouts Justine Dorog and Alyssa Bertolano each scored 15 in the loss, with the latter also scattering 19 excellent receptions and 16 excellent digs.

The Farm Fresh Foxies, who bottomed out in Pool B with a 0-5 record, settled in last place at 13th without a classification match. –

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