2:30 p.m. – Creamline vs Cignal
5:30 p.m. – Chery Tiggo vs Petro Gazz
Cignal’s fluid connection proved too much for the sputtering Chery Tiggo as it essayed a 28-26, 25-17, 25-23, win in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference round robin semifinals opener at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City on Thursday night.
American import Tai Bierria came off the bench and unloaded 21 points in a gamble that paid dividends for the HD Spikers, who erased a four-point deficit midway in the third set before completing the one-hour, 40-minute sweep.
Bierria checked in late in the opening frame in a strategy that has proven effective for Cignal, which has won three straight games with head coach Shaq delos Santos controlling the playing time of his reinforcement.
Angeli Araneta backed Bierria with 10 points, skipper Rachel Anne Daquis scored all of her nine points on kills while Roselyn Doria and Riri Meneses added eight each for the HD Spikers, who joined grand slam-seeking Creamline in the Final Four opening day winners’ list.
Cignal and Creamline will battle on Sunday with the winner getting a foothold in the best-of-three Finals.
“Well, its unexpected that we won in straight sets knowing Chery, which is the no. 2 team after the eliminations,” Delos Santos said.
“We got the chance to execute our game plan. We did a lot of review and viewing on Chery because we really needed to make quick adjustments because of the tight schedule. We’re just thankful for the win,” Delos Santos, whose squad defeated Choco Mucho last Tuesday to advance to the semis, said.
Trailing, 14-15, in the second set, the HD Spikers used an 11-2 rally capped by a Bierria smash for a commanding 2-0 match lead.
Cignal had a scare in the third frame after going down, 12-16, before mounting a fight back to tie it at 17. The Crossovers retook the lead, 22-21, off an EJ Laure off the block kill.
Araneta tied it with a hit before landing an ace to give the HD Spikers a 23-22 advantage. Cherry Tiggo opposite hitter Mylene Paat knotted the score at 23 but Gel Cayuna, who tallied 18 excellent sets, pushed Cignal at match point with a 1-2 play.
Paat surrendered the game when she sent her attack long that the Crossovers tried to contest but was unsuccessful on their challenge.
Only two Chery Tiggo players scored in double figures with Paat, who averaged 20 points per game in the eliminations, posting a quiet 11 points.
Montenegrin import Jelene Cvijovic got 10 points, 10 excellent receptions and nine digs for the Crossovers, who will face Petro Gazz on Sunday.