Cignal HD Spikers still kings of Spikers' Turf with Open title

New-look Cignal HD Spikers still kings of Spikers’ Turf with Open title

Cignal HD Spikers defend their Spikers’ Turf Open Conference crown.

Cignal HD Spikers defend their Spikers’ Turf Open Conference crown. –PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Cignal HD Spikers may have fielded a brand new look ahead of the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference but that didn’t stop them from extending their reign as the kings of men’s volleyball.

Facing the core of its last year’s title run including star Marck Espejo, the new-look Cignal still completed a golden repeat behind star Bryan Bagunas and swept Criss Cross, 25-23, 27-25, 25-21, in the Open Conference Finals on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Bagunas, who won his second straight championship in Taiwan last year, finally captured his first Spikers’ Turf title in six years, delivering the HD Spikers’ seventh crown right in his first stint.

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“We’re so grateful to have Bryan Bagunas. He shared his international experience,” said Cignal coach Dexter Clamor in Filipino. “Not just Bryan, everyone contributed. It’s really the collective effort, collective sacrifices, and collective ideas to get this championship.”

READ: Bryan Bagunas powers Cignal closer to Spikers’ Turf title

Tied at 17-all in the third set, the HD Spikers lost Jau Umandal after his head accidentally hit Jude Garcia’s elbow off his back row attempt, and was stretchered off the court.

Bagunas told Umandal to stay conscious, promising they would claim the Spikers’ Turf title.

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Cignal HD Spikers' star Bryan Bagunas in the Spikers' Turf Open Conference Finals

Cignal HD Spikers’ star Bryan Bagunas in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference Finals. –PVL PHOTO

Staying true to his words, the Philippine men’s volleyball star delivered the clutch kills including the match-clinching backrow attack to seal Cignal’s successful title defense.

Bagunas emerged as the Finals MVP with 22 points built on 15 kills, five aces, and two blocks on top of eight excellent receptions.

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“I’m thankful to our new champion players in Cignal. Everyone contributed, showed their desire to win and become a champion,” said Clamor after winning his fourth title.

“I think it’s about the system. Credit to my coaching staff and our senior players for guiding our newcomers and instilling our winning culture.”

READ: Spikers’ Turf: Criss Cross turns to Espejo in finals-clinching win

Umandal, meanwhile, delivered 18 points, while JP Bugaoan added 11 points.

Former Cignal star Espejo powered Criss Cross with 17 points and 11 receptions. Jude Garcia had 13 points, while Kim Malabunga added 11.

Cignal opened its campaign with 10 straight wins including its first two matches in the semifinals before Criss Cross snapped the former’s run with a five-set win to forge a title duel.

The HD Spikers banked on Bagunas and Umandal to bounce back and draw first blood with a vengeful 27-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19 win on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, PGJC-Navy couldn’t complete a series sweep after falling to D’Navigators in Game 2, 25-23, 25-20, 15-25, 25-23, but still captured the bronze due to superior points ratio.

The Sealions won the first game in four sets before D’Navigators tied the series. But with Cignal completing a Finals series sweep of Criss Cross, the bronze series had to be decided through the FIVB system of classification to break a tie in the Final Four.

Navy had the higher points of 1.050 against the D’Navigators’ 0.953.

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Arvin Estomata came out with his best game of the tournament 20 points built on 17 attacks, two aces, and a block. Edward Camposano had 16 points and 14 excellent receptions. Kim Dayandante had 19 excellent sets, as Jayvee Sumagaysay and Toto De Pedro added eight points apiece.

Joeven Dela Vega unleashed 28 points in the loss but still ended up with a bronze medal.

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