Cagayan notches 3rd win, sends Cignal back to the drawing board

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MANILA, Philippines — Cagayan Valley snatched their third win in four games after disposing of Cignal in four grueling sets, 25-14, 18-25, 27-25, 25-23, at the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix held at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig, Wednesday, November 27, 2013.

Now that each of the six squads is battling for positioning, the Lady Rising Suns proved they are still one of the teams to beat in the tournament as they rank second, tied with rival TMS-Army and behind league-leader PLDT, after winning against the HD Spikers.

With two legendary coaches at the helm, the match between two of the best clubs in the country did not disappoint spectators as the last 2 frames went down the wire as expected.

Tied at 22 at the third, Cagayan almost ran away with the set after back-to-back points from Wanida Kotruang’s attack and Wenneth Eulalio’s service ace. 

Fortunately for the girls in red and white, Thai import Wanida Kotruang made 2 consecutive errors which put the HD Spikers back in the game, 24-all.

Wanting to make up for her lapses, Kotruang scored a point via a strong spike off the hands of her blockers but the lead was immediately squashed by the Cebu-native, Abigail Praca, with a down the line attack to even the score again at 25-all.

With too much at stake, chinese import Xie Lei committed a crucial service error, giving the lead and set point back to Cagayan, 26-25.

To the dismay of Cignal head coach Sammy Acaylar, referees Lumer Pajarillo and Dante Malazarte unanimously called a lifting violation on Abigail Praca’s power tip giving the highly contested 3rd set to the Lady Rising Suns.

Clearly not happy with the call, Acaylar retaliated on the sidelines while talking and pointing to the referees saying “Buti sana kung hindi crucial eh!” which eventually resulted to a yellow card (warning) for Cignal.

Setter Chie Saet considers Cignal’s lack of focus the reason why they yielded to Cagayan in yesterday’s match.

“Nakakasabay naman kami,” said Saet. “Sa dulo lang talaga, nawawalan kami ng kapit.”

It also baffles the back-to-back player of the game awardee why they were not able to receive well when it is the team’s focus on their training the day prior to the match.

Cagayan, who had a lot of service errors, still managed to score a total of 10 aces against the Cignal’s faulty reception.

“Pinag-focus talaga kami sa reception during last night’s training,” added Saet. “Sayang lang na dun pa kami naunahan ng kalaban.”

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On the other hand, Lady Rising Suns head coach Ernesto Pamilar said his wards could have done better if only they were able to avoid service errors.

“Ang dami!” he said.

“Naghahabol ka ng lamang ng kalaban, tapos biglang service error,” added Pamilar. “Buti na lang bawing bawi sa service ace.”

Pamilar also noted that after having drills after drills to make their plays more fast paced, he’s still not satisfied with how they are performing.

According to him, these minor issues need to be remedied fast as they have not much time to relax since this is just a month-long league.

“Mabagal pa rin ang plays natin,” said Pamilar, addressing his girls. “Pagbalik natin sa ensayo, ta-trabahuhin natin yan.”

“Mabilis lang ang tournament na ito ‘di tulad ng (Shakey’s) V-league,” lectured Pamilar. “Kung gusto nating mag adjust, kailangan simulan na natin agad-agad.”

Cagayan’s Thai imports led the charge for win number three with Kotruang top-scoring via 21 points from 16 attacks,  service aces and a solitary block while player of the game Patcharee Saengmuang contributed 17 big points off of 14 spikes, 2 blocks and an ace.

Likewise, Cignal’s chinese imports had the most output with Li Zhanzhan scoring a total of 16 points from 14 attacks and 2 blocks while Xie Lei chipped in 13 points, 12 coming from spikes and 1 from a block.

Both teams will be facing their toughest assignment to date as Cignal will be pitted against defending champion TMS-Army Lady Troopers on Friday, November 29, 2013, while Cagayan will slug it out with the still undefeated PLDT Speed Boosters on December 1, 2013. Both matches will be held at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig.

THROWBACK: Super Liga semis preview: Petron vs Cignal HD

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The first time that Cignal and Petron faced each other in the Philippine Superliga, former UST Tigress Venus Bernal and the rest of the HD Spikers emerged victorious with a rather easy 3-set win, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23.

This loss by the crowd favorite Lady Blazers came as a surprise to the thousands who attended the opener at the PhilSports Arena. With volleyball stalwarts like Aiza Maizo, Angge Tabaquero, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, Charo Soriano and Fille Cainglet at the helm, they were poised to trample the underdog team and go home with a win but to no avail.

Lady Blazers: A tale of chemistry and rusty defense

When you put volleyball superstars from two different powerhouse collegiate teams, University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo de Manila University, your initial reaction would be “This should be explosive!” What we didn’t expect is the possibility that the team may lack chemistry. Perhaps due to limited time to train together, the spikers were not able to connect well with setter Dimaculangan as well as people expected.

Jessica Curato, perhaps the most steady libero UST has produced in recent years, was the starting libero during that game. Spectators believe her reception was shaky and she was pretty much not in the best playing form. That is probably the reason why the crowd kept chanting “Gohing!” badgering Coach Vilet Ponce De Leon to use the then-not lined up defense specialist Melissa Gohing.

HD Spikers: Easily exceeding expectations

This team came into the picture with very little expectations from the fans. With skipper Venus Bernal and libero Jen Reyes as the only notable players when the line ups were released, it was easy to underestimate this squad and relax, which is exactly what happened to the Lady Blazers.

Lefty Danika Genrauli and middle hitter Honey Royse Tubino fired off 12 and 11 points, respectively, catching Petron’s defense off guard. As the Lady Blazers focused too much on Bernal’s offense and Reyes’ defense, these two had a field day in spiking.

It is inevitable there would be a rematch. And this time around, the stakes are higher as these two teams are in the semis and will battle it out for a chance to be in the first Philippine Super Liga finals.

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What Petron needs to do:

Start strong. This team is notorious for having a slow start and catching up in the end. They have been successful so far but it would be a lot easier if they show their full capacity right at the start of the game.

Use Liss Gohing as the main libero. Come on! You are going up against a Jen Reyes. To be the best, you have to use the best.

Blocking must be spot on especially against Bernal and Gendrauli. If Petron can neutralize at least one of these two, they have a high chance of going into the Finals.

What Cignal must do:

Frustrate Maika Ortiz by providing good net defense. Letting Ortiz score point after point with her running hits will be a big headache for the HD Spikers but if they become aggressive early on with their blocking, they might be able to negate her output.

Setter Argarin needs to continue doing a great job with her ball distribution. Remember to utilize Mitch Datuin, Gendrauli and Tubino but do not forget that for crucial points, never hesitate to give it to Venus Bernal.

Jen Reyes’ digging would prove to be highly necessary for this game. Going up against power hitters from Petron would be a lot easier if her defensive skills would be business as usual.

Prediction:

Now that Petron’s chemistry issue has already been addressed and Liss Gohing has been added to beef up their already strong squad, I see a 3-4 sets victory for the Lady Blazers.