Cignal climbed its way out of a two-set hole and engineered a come-from-behind, 18-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 15-10, win over Choco Mucho to draw first blood in the best-of-three Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference semifinals series Thursday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The HD Spikers showed grace under pressure in the tight fifth set to wiggle out of a 9-10 deficit with a finishing blitz to move within a win away from their breakthrough all-Filipino finals and first championship stint since last year’s Reinforced Conference.
Ces Molina led Cignal with game-high 23 points built on 20 kills, two kill blocks and an ace she laced with 19 digs and 16 excellent receptions in an all-around performance.
Vanie Gandler added 17 markers while Jovelyn Gonzaga got 16 points for the HD Spikers, who exacted revenge over their elimination round tormentors who saw their 10-game winning streak snapped.
Game 2 is on Saturday.
“We know we had lapses in our execution but the good thing after the second set that’s the time that we realized that we really need to work for it,” Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos said.
Gonzaga sparked the HD Spikers’ closing 6-0 rally in the deciding frame after trailing 9-10. Molina followed with a kill, Riri Meneses scored off aa heady tip to an undefended backrow while Gandler landed an ace with the help of the net to give Cignal a 13-10 lead.
Flying Titans winger Isa Molde then committed an attack error before Meneses blocked Kat Tolentino to seal the win.
“I’m really proud of the team especially our players because of their effort. They wanted this win so we got a good result. Of course, we can’t be complacent, but we just want to enjoy this win first,” delos Santos said.
Sisi Rondina finished with 19 points, Tolentino got 16 while Molde got 11 for Choco Mucho, which absorbed its fifth straight semis game loss.
Maddie Madayag and Cherry Nunag scored 10 each for the Flying Titans, who dominated the first two sets only to falter in the end.