MALOLOS CITY -- Cignal banked on its rock-solid defense to dominate Iriga City, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Saturday at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center here.
Jovelyn Gonzaga provided the spark, but it was the imposing defensive presence of imports Beth Carey of Australia and Alexis Matthews of United States and Paneng Mercado that did the damage for the HD Spikers in this prestigious club league bankrolled by Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller, Grand Sport, Rebisco, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
Gonzaga fired 15 kills while Carey and Matthews delivered 10 markers apiece as the HD Spikers controlled the blocking department, 8-1, in this battle that also has Gold’s Gym and Gerflor as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
With the win, the HD Spikers shared the fourth spot with idle Generika-Ayala with a 2-3 win-loss card and stepped back on the winning track following a pair of setbacks to Petron and Cocolife, respectively.
“We all know that we came from back-to-back losses so we wanted to come back stronger,” said Gonzaga, who stepped up in the absence of star spiker Rachel Anne Daquis who was nursing a bruised knee.
“Rachel is not here, so I needed to step up for the team. We’re also coming from a loss and get this victory. We’re focusing more on our training and improving our weaknesses. I hope our streak continues.”
Despite losing Grethcel Soltones to a one-year suspension, the Lady Oragons came out firing early on.
Serbian import Tamara Kmezic waxed hot at the attack zone, towing the Lady Oragons to a 21-19 lead in the crucial stretch of the first set.
But Gonzaga delivered back-to-back hits followed by an attack error by the 6-foot-7 Serbian opposite that gave the first set victory and the momentum to the HD Spikers, much to the delight of a massive weekend crowd in this historic city.
Cignal coach George Pascua said they badly needed this victory to somehow boost their morale entering a crucial match against unbeaten F2 Logistics on Nov. 21.
“This is an overwhelming win for us because we came from two losses,” said Pascua.
“Hopefully we can sustain the winning character of the players. We need to overcome the pressure because we’re a champion team in the Invitationals,” added Pascua.
Kmezic spewed fire offensively with 22 kills while Saama Miyagawa of Japan chipped in 12 kills and a pair of aces for 14 points for the Lady Oragons, who absorbed their third consecutive setback after opening their bid with an impressive win over Sta. Lucia Realty.