MANILA, Philippines – The Cignal HD Spikers continued their rampage in the 2019 Spiker's Turf Reinforced Conference on Thursday.
They powered past the Philippine Navy Sea Lions in straight sets, 25-18. 25-20, 26-24, to rack up their ninth win in a row, and punch their ticket to the semifinals of the tournament.
"May pressure (heading into the Final 4), kasi wala kaming talo, tapos semifinals, doon talaga sa semifinals ‘yung tunay na laban, nobody’s game," said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor. "Pag-aaralan namin kung sino makakalaban namin, kailangan lang preparado kami."
Although they secured a semis seat with the victory, Clamor was far from satisfied with how his wards closed out the game.
"Kita naman 'yung mga players masyadong nag-relax which is ayaw talaga naming mga coaches na mangyari, na maging attitude ng mga players 'yung ganon," he said.
"Well, sa huli, experience pa rin 'yung pinairal kaya nanalo kami ng third set kahit nag-deuce sa huli," he added.
With the HD Spikers trailing most of the third set, Marck Espejo made sure Cignal regained its bearings, tying the game at 20-all. Despite Greg Dolor's emphatic attacks, JP Bugaoan stood the tallest as he fired four of Cignal's last six points to close out the contest.
Espejo spearheaded Cignal's attack with 14 points, while Ysay Marasigan had 11 markers.
On the other hand, Greg Dolor scored 14 points to pace the 4-6 Navy.
Earlier in the day, the Animo Green Blazing Spikers kept their final four hopes alive as they outlasted the Tony Koyfman-less Volleyball Never Stops Volleyball Club (VNS VC) Griffins in a grueling five set affair, 21-25, 25-22, 34-36, 25-23, 15-12.
With both teams exchanging hits in an extended third set, Jeremy Merat made the much-needed separation of a kill to take the lead, 35-34. Gian San Pascual then ended the tightly contested frame with an attack from the middle.
John Delos Reyes was a force to be reckoned with in the fourth set, scoring Animo's last four points, while Adviento capped it up with a spike to extend the game to a deciding set, 25-23.
Down by one in the final stanza, 11-12, Dumago fired two points on Animo's 4-0 rally to end the match.
"Sa tingin ko kailangan pang ano eh, ito naman is for exposure, so whatever 'yung ma-gain ng mga bata for this tournament, malaking bagay. However, we still have to work on 'yung mga maturity ng team namin and at the same time 'yung pag-gel," said Animo head coach Aaron Velez.
Adviento paced Animo with 22 points on 18 attacks, three aces, and a block, while Delos Reyes chipped in 19 points, six of which came from blocks to revive the Green Blazing Spikers' final four bid.
Animo is tied at the fifth spot with the Sta. Elena Ball Hammers with a 5-4 win-loss standing.
With Koyfman leaving the country due to family reasons, French hitter Jeremy Merat and Pemmy Bagalay shouldered the scoring load for VNS with the former tallying 29 points, while the latter added 20 for the Griffins, who slid to a 2-9 standing.
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