May 07, 2024

Cignal, Criss Cross duel for pride, honor

A rivalry tipped to create a lasting impact in men’s volleyball takes the spotlight on Wednesday as defending champion Cignal slugs it out with Criss Cross in Game 1 of the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Finals at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

The HD Spikers drew first blood in their initial matchup, claiming a thrilling, come-from-behind five-set win in the eliminations, but the King Crunchers pulled off a massive reversal in the semifinals to tie their early head-to-head duel.

With so much at stake in their 6 p.m. showdown, expect Cignal and Criss Cross to pour it all out in what promises to be an enthralling duel of power, athleticism and skill for the confidence and momentum in their the best-of-three championship series.

Featuring two of the best players in the country today in Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, anticipation is high as fans brace themselves for a clash for volley supremacy expected to go down-to-the-wire.

Bagunas, who dropped a conference-high 38 points in the five-set loss to the King Crunchers, will be once again tasked to lead the charge for the HD Spikers as they try to slow down Espejo, the man behind Criss Cross’ comeback from a 0-2 hole the last time out.

Undeterred by their defeat, which halted their win streak to 10, Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor vowed to come out of the setback stronger and wiser.

“We are facing the championship series with a fresh mindset. Back to square one kami with all the learnings we got from our previous loss against them in the semifinals,” said the three-time Spikers’ Turf champion tactician.

“We will make sure to play our hearts out sa finals. May mga game adjustments din kami na gagawin kaya talagang pinaghahandaan namin lahat,” added Clamor, who noted that starting setter EJ Casana and key reserve Mark Calado are back in full status after suffering injuries midway through the conference.

For Criss Cross, Espejo emphasizes the need to minimize their errors even as they seek to ride the momentum from their recent win to stand a chance against the seasoned HD Spikers.

“Actually, nung itong game na ‘to marami pa rin kaming errors. Siguro kailangan naming bawasan yung errors namin and dagdagan pa yung mga nagawa naming tama ngayon,” said Espejo.

In the battle for bronze, PGJC-Navy goes up against the D’Navigators at 4 p.m., hoping to replicate the result they achieved in the final day of the semis.

Greg Dolor and Joeven Dela Vega will once again spearhead the Sealions' charge against the lethal 1-2 combination of Francis Saura and Edward Camposano of the D’Navigators.