Cignal vs Meralco; Petron vs Philips Gold and What to Expect

Red-hot Cignal and Petron try to sustain their momentum when they clash with separate foes in the 2015 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament today at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The HD Spikers will lock horns with Meralco at 1 pm while the Blaze Spikers will tangle with Philips Gold at 3 pm, looking to shift their title-retention campaign to a higher gear in this prestigious inter-club tourney presented by Asics and backed by Milo with Mikasa, Senoh and Mueller as technical partners and TV5 as official broadcaster.

After dropping their first game via a sorry five-set loss to Cignal in the opener, the Blaze Spikers stormed back and crushed the Power Spikers in three sets before pulling off a thrilling 21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 12-25, 15-9 conquest of Foton before another good weekday crowd at The Arena in San Juan late Thursday.

Dindin Manabat came up with an inspired performance as she fired 24 kills and four blocks for a total of game-high 28 points against the Tornadoes. Foton paraded their gem of a rookie in her younger sister, national team mainstay Jaja Santiago, as well as American reinforcements Lindsay Stalzer and Katie Messing.

With the win, Petron climbed to the third spot of the team standing with a 2-1 win-loss card while Cignal remains on top with 2-0 followed by RC Cola-Air Force, which had an oozing debut following a five-set victory over Meralco also last Thursday.

“Our loss in the opening day serves as a lesson and an eye-opener for us to play better,” said Petron coach George Pascua, the architect of the Blaze Spikers 13-0 sweep in the previous All-Filipino Conference. “We have to work hard and put our best foot forward every game because the PSL is no ordinary tournament; everybody is capable of pulling an upset.”

So far, four of the tournament’s first six matches have extended to five sets, a testament of the depth, balance, quality and excitement of the competition.

“This is an entirely different ballgame,” added Pascua, noting that Philips Gold will not be an easy foe as it features an exciting playmaker in Lindsay Dowd as well as hard-hitting spikerrs in Myla Pablo, Michele Gumabao with Bojana Todorovic and Alexis Olgard serving as imports. “We have to play hard from start to finish if we want to come up with a victory.”

Also expected to draw another jampacked crowd is the match between Cignal and Meralco.

A team which underwent a major overhaul in the off-season, Cignal made heads turn as it downed Petron and Philips Gold in a pair of five-set thrillers.

But the HD Spikers will be severely tested against the Power Spikers, who are starting to find their groove despite the continuous absence of American open hitter Christina Alessi, who has been sidelined for the past couple of games due to a sprained ankle.

“Lahat ng teams malalakas. Balanse ang liga with good imports and good locals,” Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar said.

“We still have to study Meralco. We will study their plays and tendencies inside the court. We will not stop working and learning during training. Winning over them should be a total team effort.”
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caylar will pin his hopes anew on veteran Michelle Laborte with April Ross Hingpit, Cherry Vivas and rookie Fritz Gallenero starring on the offensive end.

Imports Amanda Anderson and Ariel Usher, who exploded for a conference-high 30 points against the Lady Slammers, will also be back in a bid to power the HD Spikers to what could be their best start ever with three straight victories.

Team Standing

Cignal 2-0
RC Cola-Air Force 1-0
Petron 2-1
Foton 1-1
Philips Gold 0-1
Meralco 0-3

Games Today at the Cuneta Astrodome

1 pm — Cignal vs Meralco
3 pm — Petron vs Philips Gold