Cignal nears Spikers’ Turf Finals, Umandal gives Cotabato first semis win
MANILA, Philippines — Cignal moved on the cusp of the 2023 Spikers’ Conference Finals after sweeping Iloilo, 25-17, 25-16, 25-19, rising to a 2-0 record in the semifinals round-robin semifinals on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Marck Espejo led the HD Spikers anew, delivering 13 points and 15 excellent receptions to lift his team a win closer to their fourth straight Finals appearance.
JP Bugaoan and Ysay Marasigan were also instrumental with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Wendel Miguel chipped in eight points and eight digs, as EJ Casaña dished out 19 excellent sets.
Cignal, which holds a 12-game winning streak after sweeping their 10 games in the elimination round, tries to sweep the semis against Cotabato (1-1) on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
“It always boils down to preparation,” said Cignal coach Dexter Clamor. “Our opponents were resilient so we just need to be more resilient. We can’t afford to relax because they can turn us back.”
Jade Disquitado and Toto De Pedro led D’Navigators with 12 points each, as the latter had 19 excellent receptions and five digs.
Iloilo couldn’t sustain their recent victory over Cotabato last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Jau Umandal fired 20 points as AMC-Cotabato barged into the win column of the semifinals and kept Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography winless in two games, 25-19, 28-26, 25-23.
Down 21-23 in the third set, Umandal broke down the net defense of Imus to stop the bleeding followed by Vince Mangulabnan’s set-equalizing ace, 23-all. The AJAA Spikers committed two consecutive errors that easily handed Cotabato’s first win in the semis.
“We played like it was a do-or-die game for us. We can’t afford to lose so we gave our best,” said Umandal in Filipino after also tallying nine excellent receptions.
Madz Gampong was also instrumental for AMC with 10 points to tie Iloilo at 1-1.
Imus fell to the brink of being relegated to the battle for third, although it still has a chance to barge into the Finals needing to beat Iloilo on Monday in straight sets paired with a sweep of Cignal against AMC.
Kim Malabunga and Hero Austria led the AJAA Spikers with 10 points each with the latter delivering 20 receptions.