CIGNAL shattered defending champion Petron’s ‘three-peat’ dream, 30-28, 25-21, 17-25, 23-25, 15-8, completing a semifinals series comeback to earn the last Finals berth in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at the Arena in San Juan City.
After pulling-off a come-from-behind five-set win last Tuesday in Muntinlupa, the HD Spikers’ composure was tested this time as the Blaze Spikers erased their two-set lead with Ces Molina sparking the comeback to force a decider.
But the tandem of Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis, once again, worked wonders as they came to the rescue in the fifth set to lead an 8-0 run for an 11-4 spread.
Teamwork made the dream work for Cignal as Ranya Musa and Roselyn Doria put their team at match point, 14-7, before Alohi Robins-Hardy nailed the drop ball that led the franchise to its first-ever All-Filipino Finals since it joined the PSL during its inauguration year 2013.
“Sabi ko lang (nung fifth set) ilaro niyo na lang yung laro ninyo kung sino ang matapang yun ang mananalo, kung sino yung nenerbyosin sila matatalo,” said Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga, whose No.5 team upset the league leader.
“Sobrang pinagaralan namin sila. Alam namin nasa amin ang momentum, nasa Petron ang pressure pero hanggang sa huli lumaban sila,” Barroga added. “So kudos to Petron bilib ako sa kanila sobra lang nagtrabaho yung mga players namin.”
Daquis finished with 22 points and 12 excellent receptions, while Gonzaga nailed 15 kills for 17 points laced with 21 digs playing her third five-setter in a row.
Musa had 12 point, highlighted by four blocks. Janine Navarro and Doria added 10 and nine points, respectively. Robins-Hardy dished out 32 excellent sets and put up seven points, while libero Jheck Dionela had 30 digs and 21 excellent receptions.
A new champion will be crowned as Cignal and four-straight All-Filipino finalist F2 Logistics as they collide in the best-of-three Finals series starting on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Cignal prevented a Petron-F2 Logistics finale for the seventh straight time and it will be the first All-Filipino Finals without the Blaze Spikers since 2016 .
Sisi Rondina and Molina carried Petron with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas had 15 points, 17 digs and nine excellent receptions, while Mika Reyes added 11 markers.
Reigning All-Filipino MVP Rhea Dimaculangan paced Petron with 27 excellent sets only for her team to be relegated in the battle for bronze against Foton also on Saturday.