Three wins and counting, Cignal HD heads to its next outing with the same mindset that has carried it to the top of the heap in the early going of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
“We don’t consider our team strong,” said coach Shaq delos Santos, whose enviable blend of stars has produced a mix of results – a four-set win over Army, a five-set escape over Choco Mucho and a sweep of Chery Tiggo to set the pace in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
“What we wanted is to stay focused, give our best effort,” he added. “Producing good results does not necessarily mean we’re strong. We just hope to get better. It’s a process and we’re staying humble, simple.”
They must also need to get stronger – and a lot tougher – as they set out against the most feared team in the fold in what could be their biggest test – a much awaited duel with Creamline on Thursday.
The 5:30 p.m. tussle at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna promises nothing but a dogfight, a test of will and character with the Cool Smashers likewise looking good and ready for another title run following back-to-back wins over Petro Gazz and PLDT.
“It will be an exciting match but we’ll be the underdogs,” said delos Santos of their upcoming clash with the Open Conference champions. “They’re an established team with a powerhouse cast.”
Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza form the core of Creamline’s formidable frontline rotation with Michelle Gumabao’s return adding more depth and the likes of Risa Sato, Celine Domingo, Pangs Panaga, Jia de Guzman, Kyla Atienza and Kyle Negrito, Pau Soriano, Ella de Jesus, Fille Cayetano and Rose Vargas backing them with a kind of game that wins big-time matches.
But the HD Spikers can’t wait to go bigger against Creamline with playmaker Gel Cayuna expected to be back to orchestrate the team’s plays after taking a break against Chery Tiggo where Arielle Estranero relished the rare chance to flash her skills and delivered.
That virtually made Ces Molina, Rachel Anne Daquis, Roselyn Doria, Claudine Troncoso, Angeli Araneta, Ria Meneses and Klarisa Abriam a lot easier as they rolled past the Chery Tiggo Crossovers and sent the inaugural pro league champions to the brink with a third straight defeat.
The top four in the seven-team field after the single round robin elims will advance to the next round to be spiced up by the presence of Japan and Taiwan guest teams.
“We’ll try to get the most of our break to train,” said delos Santos. “We’ll do our best and will focus on building out strength.”
But Creamline is also taking a Tuesday break and like its next rival, the Cool Smashers are making sure everything will fall into place as they seek to take their rightful place – on top – on Thursday.