DEFENDING champion Cignal and erstwhile unbeaten NU-Sta. Elena slug it out for the second time in three days, while PGJC-Navy and VNS-One Alicia collide in a pair of explosive matches kicking off the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinals at the Paco Arena today.
The HD Spikers swept the Nationals, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, at the close of the preliminaries Tuesday in a match that staked nothing but the rankings.
“It’s non-bearing but it’s a big psychological win. May gigil or takot factor na since natalo namin sila,” said Cignal main man Marck Espejo, who had an solid 17-of-30 attacks, to go with 19 receptions and five digs in the win.
But the Japan V.League veteran insisted that the HD Spikers still have a lot of adjusting to do as they brace for a big bounce-back from the UAAP powerhouse.
“We’re not going to relax,” added Espejo, referring to their performance in the third set which they dominated in the early going only to slow down midway through, enabling the Nationals to mount a rally.
As in the first two sets, however, Cignal proved steadier in the end to emerge No. 2 behind Navy at the close of elims play with NU settling for No. 3. All three finished with 5-1 slates.
Coach Dexter Clamor cited his HD Spikers’ cohesion and the intangibles that the rest of the team had chipped in throughout the one-hour, 33-minute contest but remained wary of their rematch with the Nationals at 5:30 p.m.
“Sabi nga ni Marck, siguro mas na-gain namin ang respeto nlla sa amin since nanalo kami sa eliminations. From there, mataas ang morale namin isang araw ang pahinga at laban kami ulit,” said Clamor.
“But still pag-aaralan namin yung mga lapses namin lalo na yung patapos na set. Pag-aaralan namin kung ano ang strength nila at kung anong adjustment na gagawin nila. Kailangan naming makita iyon at kailangan naming paghandaan,” he added.
The Sea Lions and the Griffins cross paths in the curtain raiser at 2:30 p.m.
PGJC-Navy’s lone loss came from the hands of NU, while VNS lost all of its three matches against fellow semifinalists.