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Cignal nails last semis spot

Cignal grabbed the last bus ride to the Final Four even before the start of the fourth set of their 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14, win over Choco Mucho at the close of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference elimination round at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City on Tuesday.

Needing to win just two sets to secure the semifinals seat by virtue of a higher tiebreak in case of a tie at No. 4 spot, the HD Spikers had some anxious moments in the first frame before bouncing back in the next two frames to assure themselves of a spot in the next round.

Cignal finished the elimination round with a 5-3 win-loss record to formally join grand slam-seeking Creamline and Petro Gazz, who were playing F2 Logistics as of press time, in the round-robin Final Four scheduled to begin tomorrow.

“We’re very thankful because we came through a lot. I’m very proud of the team, especially my players for their efforts from our preparation up to the game itself, they gave their all,” HD Spikers coach Shaq de los Santos said.

With the semis cast already decided, Cignal dominated Choco Mucho in the fourth set as it built a 24-11 lead after Flying Titans setter Deanna Wong was whistled with an over reaching fault before Klarisa Abriam scored the final blow on the opposite side.

American Tai Bierria scored 14 of her 18 points on attacks and also had four kill blocks to lead the HD Spikers to their second straight win. She added 11 digs and three excellent receptions for an all-around performance.

Cignal zapped the energy out of the Flying Titans and their fans in the third set after opening a 12-6 gap. Compounding the headache of Choco Mucho in the frame was the injury scare on Kat Tolentino, who was crying in pain as she was being helped back to the bench after hurting her left knee.

The Flying Titans also lost all-around player Des Cheng while trailing, 14-20, in the third frame to an injured right pinky.

Tolentino returned in the fourth set while Cheng, who had her finger wrapped with a splint, sat out the rest of the game.

Cignal used a decisive 4-0 spurt to recover from a 14-16 deficit in the second frame to take a 20-18 lead. Another 4-1 run put the HD Spikers at set point, 24-20. Choco Mucho Uzbek-Azerbaijani import Odina Aliyeva saved two set points but Maddie Madayag sent her serve long that tied the match, 1-1.

Ces Molina added 13 points with all but one coming off kills while Roselyn Doria and Riri Meneses got nine and eight markers, respectively, for the HD Spikers.

The Flying Titans closed their campaign with a 3-5 mark tied with Akari and PLDT.

Cheng scored 15 points as the only Choco Mucho in double figures. Kat Tolentino had nine points while Aliyeva and Isa Molde posted eight points each for the Flying Titans, who gave away 28 points off errors.

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