After booking a pair of convincing wins, Cignal marches anew to test the mettle of powerhouse RC Cola-Army and stay alive in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday March 19 at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Action starts at 3 pm following the 1 pm encounter between Petron and Foton in the opening match of this topnotch inter-club tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mueller, Senoh, Mikasa and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Still in seventh heaven after pulling off a five-set conquest of Petron Tuesday and a three-set victory over Foton Thursday, 25-20, 25-18, 25-18, the HD Spikers have a golden chance of marching to the final round should they hammer another win over the Lady Troopers who are still licking the wound inflicted by their sorry five-set loss to Petron also last Tuesday.
RC Cola-Army and Petron are safely in the final round after posting an identical 4-1 win-loss mark. Should Cignal (3-2) win over the Lady Troopers, they will pocket the remaining final four berth while idle F2 Logistics (4-2) will formally be knocked out of contention.
Also joining as the fourth team in the final round is EST Cola of Thailand.
The Thais will be powered by Chatchu-on Moksri, a 16-year old open hitter from Buriram town who campaigned in the AVC Asian Cup, FIVB World Championship and the FIVB World Grand Prix.
Aside from Moksri, also expected to draw attention are 23-year old middle blocker Jarasporn Bundasak and 20-year old setter Parinya Pankaew who both saw action in the Asian Championship in Tianjin, China, Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia and the Asian U23 Championship in Manila.
But before Cignal gets a chance to face a world-class foe in EST Cola, it has a pressing mission to accomplish: Beat RC Cola-Army.
“Whatever happens, gusto talaga namin manalo,” said Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar. “We will analyze the strong and weak points of RC Cola-Army. Alam naman natin na they are one of the winningest teams in this league, kahit anong mangyari, aambisyunin talaga namin na talunin sila.”
Against Foton, Acaylar and his wards looked like a team tailor-made to pull the rug from under RC Cola-Army.
Jeanette Panaga, a defense specialist from College of Saint Benilde, had an all-around performance, tallying 12 kills, four blocks and five aces to finish with 21 points while Janine Navarro churned 11 markers for the HD Spikers, who were obviously overflowing with pride and confidence.
Also making her presence felt was playmaker Djannel Cheng who tallied an impressive 26 sets in only one hour and 11 minutes of action.
“I didn’t expect na ganun kaganda lalaruin ng mga players ko. I was really impressed,” Acaylar said. “Hopefully they will carry that kind of momentum when we face RC Cola-Army on Saturday. It’s a tough job, but we are willing to do what it takes to bring home the victory and advance to the next round.”
Expected to counter the power of Panaga in the middle is Honey Royse Tubino, who delivered 20 points in the Lady Troopers’ setback to the Tri-Activ Spikers. Skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga, Rachel Anne Daquis and Nene Bautista are also capable of producing big numbers for the three-time champions.
Saturday, March 19 (FilOil Flying V Center)
1 pm — Foton vs Petron (Live on AksyonTV, Delayed on Monday 4:15pm TV5)
3 pm — RC Cola-Army vs Cignal (Live on AksyonTV)