MANILA, Philippines – With victories of 25 to 23, 20 to 25, 25 to 21, and 25 to 20 on Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig, Chery Tiggo exhausted Cignal HD in a wearying back-and-forth match and took the early solo lead.
The Crossovers won their second straight match after defeating an undermanned F2 Logistics team in straight sets last Tuesday. Cza Carandang pounded down critical hits in the crucial third set as the two teams shared the first two. She also held sway in the fourth set to secure the victory.
As a result of poor starts in this year’s Open and Invitational tournaments brought on by crucial player injuries and personnel loss, Chery Tiggo, which upset Creamline in last year’s Open Conference in a bubble setup in distant Ilocos Norte to gain the bragging rights as champion of the debut pro staging of the country’s premier volley league, found itself on top of the nine-team field.
Mylene Paat, the skipper, outperformed her 16-point performance against F2 Logistics with a 19-point performance, and Montegrin Jelena Cvijovic, who struggled to score just six points against the Cargo Movers, doubled her production to support Chery TIggo’s victory.
However, with a healthy crew and a winning attitude, the Crossovers are back in control.
EJ Laure also equaled her 11-point performance from the first meeting, but Carandang made a significant improvement, scoring 12 attack points on route to a 14-point exploit.
We simply played to the best of our ability as our captain (Paat) had instructed. Whatever the outcome, if we follow the training regimen, our game will naturally flow.
The HD Spikers kept the match tight in the first three sets, but they ran out of gas in the fourth. They made one final effort to threaten when the score was 20 to 23, but they were unable to overcome the Crossovers, who won the next two points to end the one hour and 52-minute contest.
After scoring 25 points in a four-set victory over Akari the previous weekend, American import Tai Bierria slowed down with a 19-point performance. Ces Molina contributed 10 hits, and Chay Troncoso, Roselyn Doria, and Rachel Anne Daquis combined for 22 points for the HD Spikers, who dropped to joint fourth with PLDT, Choco Mucho, and Akari.
Disputed solo lead by Cignal and Chery Tiggo
In the league’s season-ending conference’s inaugural games, which were held last Saturday and were organized by Sports Vision, the HD Spikers overcame an early adversity to defeat the debuting Akari Chargers in four while the Crossovers defeated the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in three.
While Cignal newcomer Tai Bierria had good form in her league debut, scoring 20 points, including 17 on attacks and collecting nine excellent digs, Chery Tiggo’s reinforcement Jelena Cvijovic is anticipated to rebound after a six-point performance the first time out.
Clarence Esteban, the coach of Chery Tiggo, said of their replacement, “She’s still learning to play the local brand of play, but she was able to rediscover her rhythm in time against F2.” The replacement made up for her scoring deficit with seven outstanding digs and 10 outstanding catches, though.
Mylene Paat, the team’s captain and an experienced competitor, scored 16 points, EJ Laure added 11 points, including key hits, and Grace Carandang, Roselle Baliton, and setter Jasmine Nabor combined for 15 points to lead the inaugural pro league champions.
Esteban continued, “We’re still in the process of rebuilding, so any further success is a benefit for us.”
Although coach Shaq delos Santos has insisted they are still far from peaking, Cignal is as motivated to go 2 to 0 early in the round robin eliminations between nine clubs.
“We still have a lot of work and room for improvement. Although it wasn’t a particularly good game for us, we are grateful for the victory. But we gained a lot from the experience, so we’ll get ready for our next match, said delos Santos, who had to overcome the absence of several crucial players to end the Chargers’ inaugural season.