Cignal clips Petron in five-set thriller to stay in contention in PSL Invitational 
Cignal escaped a winner in a five-set thriller against Petron. Jerome Ascano

CIGNAL lived for one more day after it survived a thriller over Petron, 18-25, 25-13, 25-19, 20-25, 15-12, in the PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Super Liga Invitational Conference at Imus Sports Complex on Tuesday.

College of St. Benilde standout Jeanette Panaga finished with 18 points, anchored on eight of the team’s 12 blocks, while CSB alum Jannine Navarro added 16. Former National U player Rizza Mandapat also had 11 and Davao recruit Grace Berte chipped in 10.

The HD Spikers improved to an even 2-2 record to stay in contention for the final round.

Cignal took a slim, 12-11, lead in the fifth set after Panaga outsmarted the blockers. After Petron's Mina Aganon tied the contest, 12-12, HD Spikers' Navarro and Djanel Cheng stepped up and finished the game for good. Navarro scored on a through-the-block spike and Cheng sealed the win with back-to-back service aces.

Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar was happy with the grit shown by his players.

“Nakita ko na ang game nila, as I said before, hindi ko sila nakikitaan ng heart sa laro pero sa ensayo mabibilis sila gumalaw,” said the veteran mentor.

The HD Spikers even trailed, 0-3, at the start of the fifth set before they evened the game, 5-5, and later took the lead, 10-9.

“I told them that this (fifth set) is heart and mental toughness,” said Acaylar. “Puso na ito at matibay na pagiisip kahit ano mangyari sa score lumayo, laban pa rin and that’s it.”

Cignal hopes to build on this morale-boosting win when it faces also ran Foton on Thursday.

“Today dahil nanalo confidence mataas na, alam na nila kaya manalo,” said Acaylar. “And of couse lagi namin pinaghahandan (ang games) kasi we respect all teams, alam namin pinaghahandaan din ng mga ibang coaches.”

“Gusto ko madevelop ang character nila, how thay play kasi ang skills nandyan na pero kulang sa guts and tiwala sa sarili. Ngayon lumabas na sa susunod na laro pag-iigigihan pa namin,” he added.

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Skipper Aiza Maizo-Pontillas finished with 18 points for Petron, while Maica Morada chipped in 10. The Tri-Activ Spikers dropped to 3-1.

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