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Cignal HD Spikers secure the last ticket to the semis

CIGNAL HD SPIKERS — PVL

Cignal delivered a knockout blow on Choco Mucho and essayed a 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 victory yesterday to seize the last ticket to the semifinals bus in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Tai Bierria rebounded from a sputtering opening set performance and took charge late for a match-best 18-point effort in leading the HD Spikers to the semis with a 5-3 record.

There, Cignal joined Creamline, Chery Tiggo and Petro Gazz.

The semifinals, set at the PhilSports Arena tomorrow and Tuesday and Sta. Rosa Sports Complex Saturday, will implement a single-round robin format with the top two advancing to the best-of-three finale unfurling Dec. 1 back at the PhilSports Arena or a bigger venue.

Now the Shaq delos Santos-mentored squad will have a chance to eclipse, if not replicate, its pair of third-place finish in the Open and Invitational Conferences this season.

Needing just to win two sets to advance, Cignal did that and more as it fought off a big challenge by Choco Mucho in the second set and then dominated the next two in sealing the former’s place in the next phase.

But it was over when the HD Spikers took the third set that the power-hitting Ms. Bierria dominated.

Ces Molina, who dyed her hair blond, likewise delivered a clutch effort with 13 hits, including 12 off attacks.

It was painful ending for the Flying Titans, who were in contention after going 3-3 a week ago.

But they ran into misfortunes after reinforcement Odina Aliyeva was scratched out in a 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 28-26 loss to the Cool Smashers, their sister team, Thursday at the MOA Arena due to health reasons.

Ms. Aliyeva returned to action on this one but she wasn’t in full strength and was just shadow of her old lethal self and wound up with just eight points.

It didn’t help that Kat Tolentino hurt her knee and Des Cheng jammed a finger during the game and were forced to sit out and watched helplessly from the bench as the whole team just completely unraveled.

Add all these and it was just catastrophic for Choco Mucho, which closed its campaign with a 3-5 card. — Joey Villar

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