Veterans Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis turned back the hands of time as the duo led Cignal’s charge into the semifinals with an emphatic, 25-15, 25-21, 25-21, beating of Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference Tuesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The tried and tested tandem chose the right moment to get their acts together in towing the HD Spikers to the next round and joined other qualifiers defending champion Creamline, F2 Logistics and foreign guest clubs Kurashiki Ablaze of Japan and Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh of Vietnam.
PLDT and Chery Tiggo are still playing for the last seat in the round-robin semis scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Gonzaga finished with 13 points with eight digs and four excellent receptions while Daquis added 12 markers for Cignal, which made it return to the semis after missing the Final Four in the All-Filipino Conference.
The pair combined for 20 of Cignal’s 42 attack points. Roselyn Doria and Ces Molina posted 10 markers each for the HD Spikers.
Head coach Shaq delos Santos’ game plan proved to be effective in slowing down the gunners of Choco Mucho as Cignal scored 12 kill blocks. The HD Spikers’ net defense also made Flying Titans’ ace scorer Sisi Rondina bleed for points.
“Of course, we feel blessed and happy. I’m really happy with the team. All our game plans and our preparations paid off,” Delos Santos said.
“Although we struggled during training and made lots of difficult adjust or whatsoever. I just really wished we’ll be able to apply it in the game. And we did.”
The HD Spikers took the fight out of the stunned Flying Titans right in the opening set after opening a 20-6 gap. Cignal even opened an 8-0 lead in the second frame.
Choco Mucho resisted in the third frame tying it at 15 before Cignal built a 19-16 advantage. The Flying Titans cut it to one, 18-19, before the HD Spikers sparked a 5-1 run to move at match point.
Choco Mucho saved two match points before Rodina surrendered the game when she sent her serve straight to the net.
Rondina was the only Flying Titan in double figures with 14 points in a hellish 11-of-40 spiking clip.
Choco Mucho finished the elimination round with a 3-2 card. The Flying Titans face the loser between PLDT and Chery Tiggo in the battle for seventh place.