FROM a team which won a single match last year in the Ilocos Norte bubble, Cignal HD is on the cusp of making it to the PVL Open Conference’s biggest stage.
The HD Spikers swept PetroGazz, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 to draw first blood in the best-of-three semifinals at the jampacked Filoil Flying V Centre yesterday.
Trailing by two, Ria Meneses and Rachel Anne Daquis converted two consecutive hits for Cignal to level at 23-23.
A huge block by Meneses on Angels’ open spiker Grethcel Soltones allowed the HD Spikers to retake the lead, before Angeli Araneta ended the match with a kill.
Cignal HD looks to finish off the series and claim its first championship appearance in the now-professional league in Game 2 set at 6 p.m. tomorrow at a bigger venue, the Mall of Asia Arena, to accommodate more fans.
Game 3, if necessary, will be played at the same Pasay venue.
“I was very happy (for the win) and at the same time I enjoyed the game, ‘grabe yung labanan, ayaw magpatalo ng bawat isa,'” said coach Shaq delos Santos.
“It’s all about experience,” he added.
Meneses, one of the key off-season acquisitions for the HD Spikers, was a force to reckon in the frontline with three blocks to finish with 14 points.
Roselyn Doria, Meneses’ partner in the middle, also frustrated PetroGazz’s attacking game by tallying three blocks to finish with 10 points.
Daquis added 11 points and four receptions, Ces Molina was also solid for Cignal HD with 10 points and 10 digs while setter Gel Cayuna tossed in 32 excellent sets and fired three service aces.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, turning back the hands of time, took charge of the Angels with 14 points, 12 digs and six receptions while Soltones chipped in 11 markers.
Earlier, Royse Tubino had 24 points, 16 receptions and eight digs as Black Mamba-Army climbed up the classification phase ladder following a 25-22, 25-21, 27-25 victory over BaliPure.
Janine Marciano tallied 15 points and eight receptions for the Water Defpenders, who ended their stint in ninth place.