Cignal sends Army packing

Photo courtesy of PVL
Photo courtesy of PVL

Games Saturday:

(Sta. Rosa Sports Complex)

2:30 p.m. –- Petro Gazz vs PLDT

5:30 p.m. –- Chery Tiggo vs Creamline

Cignal rediscovered its winning ways as it eliminated Army with an emphatic straight-set victory, 25-23, 25-19, 25-19, to pump life into its Final Four bid in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Thursday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

The HD Spikers shook off a rusty start after a two-week layoff to arrest a two-game slide and remain in the thick of the battle for the last three semifinals seats with an even 2-2 win-loss record.

Unbeaten Chery Tiggo (5-0) occupied the first semis seat while undefeated grand slam-seeking Creamline (4-0) is cinched to own a spot in the round-robin Final Four.

"This win gave us a good chance (in the semifinals race). At this point we can't relax, every game is a must-win for us," Cignal coach Shaq Delos Santos said.

"I'm proud of my players' commitment and they performed well today."

Cignal's American import Tai Bierria finished with 17 points highlighted by 16 attacks, including an off-speed hit that broke a 23-23 deadlock in the tight opening set, as well as 12 digs.

Skipper Rachel Anne Daquis had 10 markers while Ces Molina, who played only in the last two sets, chipped in 10 points with seven coming in the third frame for the HD Spikers.

Middle Riri Meneses saw action for the first time after missing three games and made an immediate impact at the net as she tallied two kill blocks in her seven-point debut in the season-ending conference.

Gel Cayuna dished out 20 excellent sets to spark Cignal's 48 attack points.

Meanwhile, the league implemented the use of the Challenge System for the first time.

Army head coach Kungfu Reyes took the honor of being the first to call a challenge early in the openings set.

But his block touch challenge on Lady Troopers' Canadian import Laura Condotta's smash, which was whistled out, was unsuccessful after the review that tied the frame at 4-4.

Reyes again called for a challenge midway in the set with the same unsuccessful result.

Cignal faced fierce resistance from the Lady Troopers in the first set. Veteran Jean Balse-Pabayo scored on an off-speed hit before Tai committed an error that tied the frame at 23.

Bierria put the HD Spikers back in front, 24-23, before Daquis iced the opening set with a spike.

The HD Spikers dominated the next two sets to seal the impressive win.

Condotta fired 13 points to pace Army while Jovelyn Gonzaga had 10 markers.

With a 0-5 record and already out of contention, the Lady Troopers will only play the spoilers' role in their remaining outings.

Army still has three more tries to capture the elusive victory.

The Lady Troopers will face Choco Mucho on 8 November and Creamline on 17 November before wrapping up their campaign on 19 November against Petro Gazz.

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