By Joey Villar
CIGNAL tries to sustain its magical run as it clashes with Petro Gazz even as sister teams Creamline and Choco Mucho collide on Friday at the start of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference semifinals at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Coming into the season as underdogs after finishing 10th and dead last a year back, the HD Spikers have defied overwhelming odds as they swept a tough Pool A in four games and then dispatched the Bali Pure Water Defenders, 25-14, 25-9, 25-14, in the quarterfinals on Monday to advance to the semis.
There, Cignal will face last year’s third placer Petro Gazz, which edged F2 Logistics, 25-14, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19, on Tuesday to arrange an interesting best-of-three showdown.
“We just want to try to work twice or thrice harder for us sustain what we have already accomplished, the job is not yet done,” said Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos.
Expected to draw much attention is the Creamline-Choco Mucho showdown in a battle of Rebisco-owned squads at 6 p.m.
The Cool Smashers dethroned last the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, last year’s champions, in a 25-18, 25-14, 23-25, 25-19 result on Monday while the Flying Titans fended off the PLDT High Speed Hitters’ upset bid and eked out a 25-21, 23-25, 29-31, 25-15, 15-11 win on Tuesday.
Creamline is eyeing to reclaim the title it lost to Chery Tiggo last season in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte while Choco Mucho is hoping to improve on a fourth-place performance a year ago.
The Sherwin Meneses-mentored Cool Smashers will come in as the prohibitive favorites having retained the core of their past team that included Alyssa Valdez, Jia de Guzman, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza and Jeannette Panaga.
Flying Titans, for their part, have drawn strength from Deanna Wong, Bea de Leon, Pauline Gaston, Denden Lazaro-Revilla and talented new recruits in Isa Molde, Aduke Ogunsaya and Desiree Cheng.