Spiker’s Turf: MVP Jau Umandal boosts Cignal
MANILA, Philippines—The rich got richer as the Cignal HD Spikers signed reigning Most Valuable Player Jau Umandal and three other prized recruits ahead of the next Spikers’ Turf tournament in October.
The HD Spikers on Wednesday welcomed Umandal, Lloyd Josafat, Mark Calado, and Vince Abrot as they eye to sweep the two Spikers’ Turf conferences this year without star spiker Marck Espejo, who will play in the Korean V-League also in October.
Espejo was drafted by reigning champion Incheon Korean Air Jumbos as the third overall pick in the 2023 Korea Volleyball Federation (KOVO) Asian Quota Draft last April 27.
But Cignal quickly filled the void, landing three talented wing spikers and a versatile middle blocker in Josafat.
Umandal, who won the Open Conference MVP and led his former team Cotabato to the Finals, will be playing for the team that beat them in the Finals.
The University of Santo Tomas product will be joined by his Philippine men’s volleyball team and Cotabato teammate Josafat, who is also one of the University of the East’s main gunners in the UAAP Season 85.
Umandal was part of the Top 10 in every skills department in the Open Conference, where he emerged as the best player.
The national team star was the second-top scorer in the league with a total of 236 points. He was the third-best attacker with a 45.82% spiking rate, fourth in blocking with 0.47 blocks per set, and No.4 in serving with 0.23 aces per frame and also showed tremendous floor defense as the eighth Best Digger with 1.15 digs per set and the No. 8 Best Receiver with a 41.94% efficiency rate.
Calado, who emerged as last UAAP season’s top scorer and led Far Eastern University to a bronze finish, will also beef up the wing hitter rotation of the HD Spikers as he teams up with mainstays Wendel Miguel and Ysay Marasigan.
Abrot will provide the veteran presence for the HD Spikers after he played for the Vanguard Volley Hitters last conference.
Cignal is eyeing its second straight title this year after sweeping all its 15 games in the Open Conference.