Cignal wasted no time gauging Maruichi Hyogo as the HD Spikers exploited its power and experience to smother their youthful rivals, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19, and firm up their finals drive in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan Friday night.
Jau Umandal underscored the HD Spikers’ strength at the top and the service line, scoring eight attack points and banging away three consecutive thunderous aces, the first actually was an unexpected stroke of luck as the ball hit the net before finding an open spot – to the delight of the Cignal fans but to the disappointment of the visiting Japanese squad.
"Sabi ko nga nung Wednesday we don't have any data sa Maruichi so pinaghandaan lang namin maigi kung paano kami maglaro, pinolish lang namin yung lapses namin for the previous games," said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor after the 79-minute match.
Maruichi, a selection of collegiate players from the Hyogo region, actually surged to a 4-1 lead in the third. But Cignal regrouped and wrested control all the way to the finish.
“Mas ginanahan kami sa challenge nila sa floor defense. Hindi man nila nakuha sa ibabaw, matibay naman sila sa ilalim,” said Umandal, whose two other aces in varying fashions gave Cignal a 12-8 lead in the third frame.
The HD Spikers asserted control over the net battle, excelling both in offense and defense with JP Bugaoan scoring 11 points, including five blocks, the last anchoring the team’s three-man wall that foiled the last Maruichi Hyogo last attack.
Cignal, which earlier posted a five-game sweep of the elims, thus nailed its second straight-set victory following their 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 romp over the Sta. Elena-NU Nationals last Wednesday.
With a 2-0 slate, Cignal gained the early solo lead in the single round robin semis among five teams with National U and Letran toting 1-1 cards and Perpetual and Maruichi Hyogo posting 0-1 records.