Cignal sustained its attack and flashed solid blocking all game as it fashioned out a swift 25-15, 25-14, 25-19 victory over Army-Katinko to wrest the solo lead in the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference before a packed crowd at the Paco Arena in Manila yesterday.
Marck Espejo unleashed an eight-kill game and four kill blocks while JP Bugaoan backed him up with nine points, also including four blocks, as the fancied HD Spikers roared to their second straight-set romp following a 25-17, 25-15, 25-22 win over the Sta. Rosa Lions in last Tuesday’s opener marking the return of the country’s premier men’s league organized by Sports Vision after a three-year hiatus.
“Everyone performed well compared to our game against Sta. Rosa,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, whose wards likewise cashed in on their familiarity with the Troopers’ game to complete the 69-minute victory.
“I think our advantage against Army was we had tune-up games with them,” added Clamor.
But the heavy-hitting HD Spikers proved too strong in offense, hammering in 41 kills, seven more than the Troopers, and were too solid off the net, coming away with 10 kill blocks against none by their rivals.
Cignal likewise pounced on Army’s sloppy reception, canning in five aces.
The Troopers, who also dropped a four-setter to the Sta. Elena side last Thursday, fell to 0-2.
The HD Spikers, the back-to-back champions before the league took a long break due to pandemic, hit their stride midway in the first set, breaking away from a shaky two-point lead on a decisive 17-9 run.
Espejo then combined with Alfred Valbuena as Cignal unloaded another strong finishing kick, 11-4, in the second frame before the HD Spikers foiled the Troopers’ fightback from 15-22 down in the third to within four on a 4-1 windup, aided by an Army mishit.
Cignal skipper Ysay Marasigan finished with eight points while Valbuena came through with seven points to underscore the team’s balanced offensive sock.
Army-Katinko drew nine points apiece from PJ Rojas and Benjaylo Labide but coach Melvin Carolino drew just a combined 16-point output from five players, including six points from Jaidal Abdulmahid.
2:30 p.m. – Navy vs Sta. Elena
5:30 p.m. – Ateneo vs Sta. Rosa