Cignal flirted with disaster before booking a scary 19-25, 25-18, 25-13, 23-25, 15-12 victory over Sta. Lucia Realty in the Rebisco-Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Veterans Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga delivered crucial hits to spearhead the HD Spikers’ first victory in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Belo and Gold Gym with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Gonzaga tallied 19 kills and three blocks for game-high 22 points while Daquis had 10 kills for a total of 14 markers, highlighted with spunk and grit in the crucial stretch of the deciding set.
A national team mainstay, Daquis flaunted her nerves of steel as she uncorked a booming kill that equalized the match at 11 in the fifth set of this encounter that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Mueller, Asics and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
Gonzaga then delivered the go-ahead spike before Filipino-American MJ Phillips tied it again at 12. Gendrauli was assessed with an attack error before Gonzaga unloaded another kill for a safe 14-12 advantage that iced the battle.
“I was surprised with the composition of Sta. Lucia. They’re so tall,” said Cignal coach George Pascua, noting that the Lady Realtors’ imposing presence at the net made it difficult for them to attack.
“Nung fifth set pinabilis ko ang mga atake namin. Kasi malalaki ang kalaban eh, mahirap mag-penetrate. Mabuti at naging effective naman sa bandang huli.”
Pascua admitted that the Lady Realtors could have pulled a massive upset if not for some breaks that went their way.
“Sta. Lucia is very good,” said Pascua, who led the HD Spikers to their first crown last conference. “This is our first game so nabulaga din kami. Hindi din namin ine-expect na ganun kaganda ang lalaruin ng Sta. Lucia.”
A daughter of an American serviceman from Zambales, Phillips had an impressive debut as she tallied 10 kills and five blocks for 16 points while Gendrauli had nine kills and four aces and two blocks for the Lady Realtors, who edged the HD Spikers in the blocking department 9-8.
Another new face in Rebecca Rivera also suited up, but she was obviously still adjusting with her teammates and saw limited action as veteran Djanel Cheng got the lion’s share of the minutes.