Cignal clipped Cotabato, 25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23, at the close of the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference semifinals at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Monday night (Mar. 27) but the latter still advanced to the championship by nipping Iloilo in the tiebreak for the other finals slot.
The HD Spikers scored an expected sweep of the elims and the semis and remained the overwhelming favorites to regain the crown they lost to the National U Bulldogs last year.
Earlier, Imus topped Iloilo, 25-23, 11-25, 25-20, 25-15, to force a three-way tie at 1-2 at the close of the round robin semis.
But the AJAA Spikers bowed out of the finals race due to inferior set ratio.
Cotabato and Iloilo actually tied after the first tiebreak but the former nipped the latter for the other finals berth with a better points ratio, 0.95-0.93.
Game One starts tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5:30 p.m., also at the Rizal Coliseum while Iloilo and Imus clash for the bronze medal at 3 p.m.
“It’s all about winning the game kahit natalo kami nung third set basta importante nakabawi,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, whose team advanced to its fourth straight Finals appearance.
Cotabato got the break it needed when it broke away from a tight 21-20 count aided by two Cignal errors coupled with Steven Rotter and Rex Intal’s attacks as the Spikers stalled the HD Spikers.
But Cignal held its nerves in a fiercely fought fourth set with Marck Espejo punctuating the HD Spikers’ one-hour and 51-minute victory with a hit.
Espejo top-scored anew with 20 points on 16 attacks, three aces, and a block and finished with 15 excellent receptions while JP Bugaoan had 14 points while Wendel Miguel netted 11 points and eight digs.
Jau Umandal scored 20 points for the Cotabato Spikers, who also drew 11 markers from Wewe Medina.