MANILA, Philippines – The mighty Cignal HD Spikers now stand one win away from a perfect 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference run after blanking the Cotabato Spikers in a tight affair, 25-22, 25-22, 28-26, at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday, March 29.
Star spiker Marck Espejo led his team through the nip-and-tuck battle with a 26-point eruption in just three sets played off 22 attacks, 3 aces, and 1 block in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals.
EJ Casaña also steered the offense with 17 excellent sets to go with 4 points, while Ysay Marasigan and Wendel Miguel each added 12 points.
Knotted at 26-all in what would be the game’s final frame, Espejo wound up with a clutch kill for the 27-26 lead. His counterpart Jau Umandal, in turn, bungled his backrow hit to gift Cignal the win and hand Cotabato another sorry loss at the hands of the HD Spikers.
“Well, credit to them all. I said it’s really the collective effort of everyone to win,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor in Filipino. “Our character will really be tested, they will really test our system, patience, and camaraderie.”
“What’s great here is we were really challenged and we showed that no matter what obstacle we’ll go through, we will work as one.”
Umandal was the long double-digit scorer at the losing side with 15 points off 14 attacks, while Rex Intal was a distant second with 7 points off a game-high 4 blocks and 3 spikes.
Cignal now looks to finish off a 14-0 conference run for the title on Friday, March 31, 5:30 pm, still at the Rizal Memorial. – Rappler.com
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