PSL unveils video challenge system as unbeaten Cignal clashes with champ Petron
Dindin Santiago Manabat will lead Petron against unbeaten Cignal. Freddie Dionisio

ACTION in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) is about to get more intense as it formally introduces the video challenge system when unbeaten Cignal clashes with reigning champion Petron in today’s main game at The Arena in San Juan.

The HD Spikers try to keep their immaculate record intact as they face the Blaze Spikers at 6:15 p.m. in the second match of Tuesday’s featured doubleheader in the tournament presented by Asics and backed by Milo with Senoh, Mueller and Mikasa as technical partners and TV5 as official broadcaster

Foton meanwhile, tangles with RC Cola in the first game at 4:15 p.m.

After retooling its roster in the offseason, Cignal has been regarded as the team to beat after sweeping the first round with five consecutive victories, thanks to American import Ariel Usher, who erupted for 36 points built on 29 kills, five blocks, and an ace in their 26-19, 24-26, 25-23, 25-17 victory over RC Cola-Air Force over the weekend.

But it won't be a walk in the park for the HD Spikers as the Blaze Spikers are also serious in making a strong run in the second round of this tournament which stakes a ticket to the AVC Asian Women's Club Championship in Manila next year.

Powered by Brazilians Rupia Inck and Erika Adachi, with Rachel Anne Daquis, Frances Molina, Abby Marano, and Dindin Santiago in the attack zone, Petron lost heartbreaking five-set loss to Cignal in the opener last Oct. 10 at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.

Since then, the Blaze Spikers won a pair of games before losing to Philips Gold and closing their first-round campaign with a four-set win over RC Cola-Air Force to pile a 3-2 mark.

“I'm sure Petron already made the adjustments and will come back stronger in the second round,” said Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar, who also tried to downplay their unbeaten start.

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“Winning five straight games means nothing if we will not take home the championship. Yes, we swept the first round, but the second round is a different story. We're practically back to zero so we have to remain hungry and keep on working.”

Adding more excitement to the heated battle will be the unveiling of the video challenge system -- a state-of-the art volleyball technology that allows competing teams to challenge questionable calls during the game through the help of 16 high-definition cameras that will be beamed through a giant LED screen to be installed at the venue.

PSL president Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara said the apparatus was already delivered Monday and will have its dry run Tuesday. A special briefing and technical meeting among team members will be also held tomorrow before its full launch on Thursday.

The PSL will be the first club league in Asia to use the cutting-edge technology.

“It's going to be a game-changer,” said Suzara, who is also a ranking executive of the International Volleyball Federation and Asian Volleyball Confederation. “The PSL is investing in this kind of technology to maintain the beauty of the game. This is our contribution to uplift the state of volleyball in the country.”

Acaylar said the video challenge system will completely change the complexion of the matches.

“As a coach, sometimes I also doubt the call of game officials. Tao lang din sila, may mga bagay na hindi din nakikita,” said Acaylar, a seasoned mentor who guided the national team to the Asian Women's Seniors Volleyball Championship and the AVC Asian Men's Club Championship earlier this year.

“But with the video challenge system, we will be sure that the officiating will be fair, transparent, and accurate. This is really a giant step for the PSL and Philippine volleyball in general.”

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