2:30 p.m. — Petro Gazz vs Cignal
5:30 p.m. — Chery Tiggo vs Creamline
CIGNAL leaned on its nearly impenetrable net defense and took advantage of an out-of-sync Creamline import Yeliz Basa as it eked out a shock 23-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-18 victory yesterday to move on the cusp of a breakthrough finals appearance in the PVL Reinforced Conference.
Tai Bierria unloaded a match-high 21 points while presiding over her team’s net defense with three blocks as the HD Spikers nailed their second straight win and jumped closer to advancing to the best-of-three finals unfolding Thursday.
It also silenced the predominantly Cool Smashers crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was an upset of sorts for Cignal, which barely made the semifinals as the No. 4 seed, against a franchise that is not only the top seed but also the heavy favorite to win it all and essay a historic Grand Slam.
A win for the HD Spikers tomorrow at the PhilSports Arena against the Petro Gazz Angels would seal their first finals appearance since joining the country’s only pro volley league last year.
“I feel like this team is characterized by our ability to keep getting better and better, it’s really amazing,” said an ecstatic Ms. Bierria.
Cignal’s re-emergence as a legitimate title contender was helped with Ms. Basa playing a little off after the Turk was benched in the whole fourth set and wound up with just 17 points.
Creamline skipper Alyssa Valdez, who paced her team with 20 hits, and the Cool Smashers tried to turn the tide in their favor by going Ms. Basa-less in the fourth set but it was not enough to weather the Cignal storm.
The Cool Smashers fell to 1-1 and would need nothing less than a win versus Chery Tiggo in the last semis play date to have a chance at barging into the finals and gaining a crack for that rare Grand Slam.
Ms. Basa actually started strong and Creamline was in control early as it had some chances to snare the third set and a 2-1 set lead.
But the Cool Smashers unraveled against the HD Spikers’ rock solid net defense that allowed the latter to snatch the set instead.
It was all Cignal need to break the hearts and spirit of Creamline, which decided to go all-Filipino but to no avail. — Joey Villar