Cignal survives St. Benilde to advance to PNVF final

Cignal survives St. Benilde to advance to PNVF final

/ 07:04 PM February 09, 2024

Cignal HD Spikers in the PNVF Champions League.

Cignal HD Spikers in the PNVF Champions League.

MANILA, Philippines — Chai Troncoso provided the much-needed spark in the fifth set and Cignal overcame a two-set deficit to dethrone College of Saint Benilde, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-10, to reach the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League final on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Troncoso caught fire in the deciding set scoring four straight points to give the HD Spikers a blistering 7-0 start before she fired an ace followed by Vanie Gandler’s big block to extend the lead to 10-2. 

St. Benilde fought back and took advantage of Cignal’s late miscues to cut it down to five, 13-8, but Wielyn Estoque’s attack error sent the latter at match point. Zam Nolasco and Rhea Densing saved two points but Jacqueline Acuna executed the game-winning running attack to end the two-hour and 25-minute match.

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READ: Cignal sweeps PNVF eliminations, awaits semis foes

Troncoso made the most of her extended playing time, leading the way for the HD Spikers with 15 points, six from the fifth set, to book their first championship game since 2022 in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.

“My mindset [during the fifth set] was to win this game. I have to contribute because I was given the chance to play [in the decider],” said Troncoso as Ces Molina sat in the fifth set. “We waited to play in the final for so long. I’m so happy that we’re back.”

Cignal, which remained unbeaten in five games amid another five-setter with St. Benilde, battles the survivor of the Chery Tiggo-Petro Gazz semifinal in the winner-take-all final on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

READ: Coach, Van Sickle have winning debuts for Petro Gazz in PNVF tilt

Molina delivered 13 points for the HD Spikers. Ria Meneses had 12 points. Gandler still finished with nine including the clutch hits in the fifth amid her reduced playing time. Gel Cayuna scored five while equally distributing the offensive wealth, as libero Dawn Macandili-Catindig protected Cignal’s floor.

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Cignal coach Shaq Delos Santos said they have been resting Gandler due to fatigue from the week-long tournament but he still lauded their rising star as she delivered when it mattered most in the fifth. He was all praise for Troncoso, too.

“She’s a bit tired but it’s a good thing that Vanie delivered in the fifth set. She will always be part of our rotation. We just need a proper timing when to field her,” said Delos Santos in Filipino. “We know that [Chai] will perform well because she’s been giving her 100 percent in practice. Despite the challenges and going through ups and downs, she never stops. And our goal is to teach all of them and uplift the whole team.”

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St. Benilde, which ruled the previous edition of the tournament last year, is relegated to the battle for third against the loser of the other PNVF semifinal match.

Gayle Pascual led the Lady Blazers’ gallant stand with 18 points including three blocks. Nolasco and Corrine Apostol chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.

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TAGS: Cignal HD Spikers, College of St. Benilde Lady Blazers, PNVF Champions League

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