CIGNAL libero Jheck Dionela hopes history repeats itself as the struggling team faces an uphill climb to secure a semifinal slot in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix.
The HD Spikers are down at the bottom with a 1-8 win-loss record and will face third-seed F2 Logistics in the playoff round on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan, where the winner joins top two teams and automatic semifinalists Foton and Petron.
Cignal import Lynda Morales continues to miss the games due to a fractured left ankle and Chie Saet is still getting acquainted with the team in only her third game with HD Spikers, but the pint-sized defense specialist remains optimistic about their semis chances especially after overcoming the same odds in the past.
Dionela, who has been with the team since it joined the league in 2013, looked back on when they finished runner up to Philippine Army in the first Grand Prix conference.
“Ganito rin kami noon,” the former University of Perpetual Help libero told a handful of reporters as she was organizing her things after Cignal received a 19-25, 14-25, 16-25, beating from Foton on Tuesday at General Trias Sports Center in Cavite.
“’Di ba, naalala niyo ‘yun?” she asked. “Ganitong ganito rin ‘yun, kulelat kami tapos nakasilat kami.”
Her eyes widened as she clearly recalled their journey when Cignal was also at the bottom and pulled off an upset against the undefeated and top-seed PLDT MyDSL team bannered by Sue Roces, Charo Soriano, Angela Benting, Louann Latigay, Sasa Devanadera, Lizlee Gata-Pantone with American imports Savannah Noyse and setter Kaylee Manns under multi-titled mentor Roger Gorayeb.
But the HD Spikers composed of two Chinese imports Li Zhangzhan and Lei Xie, backed by locals Mitch Datuin, Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Danika Gendrauili, Abi Praca, Saet and Dionela, denied PLDT MyDSL, 17-25, 25-22, 21-25, 27-25, 16-14.
Dionela, the smallest in the team, continues to show her big fighting heart to this day as she sees some similarities between their past and present situation.
“Kaya hindi talaga ako nawawalan ng pag-asa eh,” said Dionela. “Galing na kami dito eh, ngayon kulang kami ng isang import eh noon nga dalawa import namin pero di naman kami nagkakaintindihan kasi di nagi-Ingles, tapos ngayon naman malakas din ang F2 star-studded rin kagaya noong PLDT.”
“Galing na kami dito sa ganitong sitwasyon, wala naman masama mangarap na makapuwing kami ulit, pagandahan lang ‘yan ng gising,” she added.
Cignal needs to win four of its last five games – one in the playoff, one in the semis and two in the best-of-three Finals – to take home its first title and join Philippine Army, Petron, Foton and F2 Logistics to win the championship.
Dionela, along with American import Laura Schaudt, Fil-Am setter turned middle blocker Shauna-Lei Santos, mainstays Micmic Laborte, Janine Marciano, Mumay Vivas, Paneng Mercado, Mylene Paat and Venus Bernal will face a goliath in the F2 Logistics squad of 6-foot-6 American reinforcement Hayley Spelman, Sydney Kemper intact former and current La Salle core of Aby Marano, Cha Cruz, Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili.