March 29, 2023

Cignal repels Cotabato, nears sweep

Cignal trounced Cotabato in virtually the same fashion it did in their first two face-offs, scoring a 25-22, 25-22, 28-26 victory at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum to move a win away from completing a sweep not just of the best-of-three finals but the entire Spikers’ Turf Open Conference as well.

The HD Spikers shoot for a 15-game sweep on Wednesday.

Everything they did right in their dominant run from the elims to the semis, they did again last night with Marck Espejo spearheading their assault with a 26-point effort he spiked with three thunderous aces.

Though the Cotabato Spikers kept it close throughout, battling their fancied rivals kill-for-kill and shot-for-shot, the HD Spikers proved steadier in the clutch in all three sets, particularly in the third when the former moved at set point, 24-23, on a Jau Umandal soft hit.

But Espejo fired a kill from the back row with the same power when he is upfront to extend the set then the two teams fought through two more deadlocks before the former Ateneo standout unleashed another stinging kill and Umandal misfired from his own backrow bid to yield the set and the match.

“Kumapit hanggang dulo. I just told the boys na i-maximize lang un strength namin through (setter) EJ Casana,” said Cignal coach Dexter Clamor. “But it’s a team effort, sa attack, defense, all the basics, nagtulungan ang team.”

Casana, who made his first finals appearance, took the game’s top honors with 17 excellent sets on top of four points.

JP Bugaoan added 12 points while Wendel Miguel had 12 markers as well along with 17 excellent receptions.

On the other hand, Umandal was the lone bright spot for the Cotabato Spikers with 15 points on 14 attacks and a block along with six excellent receptions and four excellent digs.

Former HD Spiker Rex Intal and Wewe Medina chipped in seven and six points, respectively, in the loss.