MALOLOS CITY — Cignal banked on its rock-solid defense to dominate Iriga City, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Saturday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center.
Jovelyn Gonzaga provided the spark but it was the imposing defensive presence of imports Beth Carey of Australia, Alexis Matthews of United States and Paneng Mercado that did the damage for the HD Spikers in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller, Grand Sport, Rebisco, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
Gonzaga fired 15 kills while Carey and Matthews delivered 10 markers apiece as the HD Spikers controlled the blocking department, 8-1, in this battle that also has Gold’s Gym and Gerflor as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
With the win, the HD Spikers shared the fourth spot with idle Generika-Ayala with a 2-3 win-loss card and stepped back on the winning track following a pair of setbacks to Petron and Cocolife, respectively.
“We all know that we came from back-to-back losses so we wanted to come back stronger,” said Gonzaga, who stepped up in the absence of star spiker Rachel Anne Daquis who was nursing a bruised knee.
“Rachel is not here, so I needed to step up for the team. We’re also coming from a loss and get this victory. We’re focusing more on our training and improving our weaknesses. I hope our streak continues.”
Despite losing Grethcel Soltones to a one-year suspension, the Lady Oragons came out firing early on.
Serbian import Tamara Kmezic waxed hot at the attack zone, towing the Lady Oragons to a 21-19 lead in the crucial stretch of the first set.
But Gonzaga delivered back-to-back hits followed by an attack error by the 6-foot-7 Serbian opposite that gave the first set victory and the momentum to the HD Spikers, much to the delight of a massive weekend crowd in this historic city.
Cignal coach George Pascua said they badly needed this victory to somehow boost their morale entering a crucial match against unbeaten F2 Logistics on Nov. 21.
“This is an overwhelming win for us because we came from two losses,” said Pascua. “Hopefully we can sustain the winning character of the players. We need to overcome the pressure because we’re a champion team in the Invitationals.”
Kmezic spewed fire offensively with 22 kills while Saama Miyagawa of Japan chipped in 12 kills and a pair of aces for 14 points for the Lady Oragons, who absorbed their third consecutive setback after opening their bid with an impressive win over Sta. Lucia Realty.
Meanwhile, F2 Logistics remains unscathed after clobbering Cocolife, 26-24, 25-21, 25-21, in the second game.
Import Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela wreaked havoc, delivering 14 kills, two aces and a block for the Cargo Movers, who raced to their third victory in this prestigious club tourney.
American import Kennedy Bryan and Aby Maraño chipped in 10 points apiece as the Cargo Movers survived a furious fightback in the first set to dictate the tempo in the second and third and run away with the victory.
“Like other teams, Cocolife was no easy foe,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus.
“I think the breaks of the game in the first set that went our way gave us the confidence in the second and third sets. I can see the determination of my players. We have yet to lose and that’s something we want to maintain.”
Taylor Milton erupted for 21 points while Tai Manu-Olevao added 14 markers for the Asset Managers, who competed without evergreen Tina Salak to absorb their third loss in five games.
Nov 14 Filoil Flying V Center
4:15pm Victoria Sports UST vs Sta Lucia
7pm Foton vs Petron
Nov 16 Filoil Flying V Center
4:15pm Cocolife vs Iriga
7pm Generika-Ayala vs F2 Logistics
Nov 18 De La Salle Lipa Sentrum
Buy at SM Tickets now, P200 all seats
4pm Foton vs Sta Lucia
6pm Victoria Sports UST vs F2 Logistics
All games are live from 4pm on ESPN5 (TV5). Livestream on Sports5’s YouTube channel. Overseas (except US/CA) can watch via mavshack.com