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Gandler, Meneses take charge as Cignal repels Akari

Cignal overcame an early struggle and demonstrated its superiority over Akari, banking on its offensive prowess and exceptional blocking to pound out a 21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 25-18 victory in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference at the Smart Coliseum Saturday.

In a thrilling and intense match marked by extended rallies, Vanie Gandler, Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria and Riri Meneses took charge for Cignal, coming through with relentless attacks while converting points from thwarted Akari assaults.

The encounter thus broke the trend of one-sided victories, resulting in the league’s first four-set win in the early stages of the season.

Akari, reinforced by seasoned Grethcel Soltones and Ced Domingo, surprised Cignal with its resolve and poise in the first frame but the HD Spikers rebounded in the second set and maintained their dominance. The Chargers struggled to re-adjust and the HD Spikers capitalized on their momentum, denying any chance of Akari to mount a comeback.

Doria’s emphatic kill off a quick set by Gel Cayuna ended the two-hour and one-minute encounter, giving the HD Spikers’ campaign a big push coming off a victory in the Champions’ League recently.

Best player of the game Riri Meneses underlined the significance of communication within the team, saying: “Sa communication ng players at coaches nag-i-start ang galaw ng bawat isa.”

She, however, acknowledged the challenging road ahead in the prolonged elims phase, expressing the team’s goal of a Top 4 finish.

“We’re aiming for a Top 4, but there’s a lot of work to do kasi mahaba ang elims. We’ll take it one game at a time,” said Meneses, who scored 13 points, including three blocks.

“Thankful kasi naka-survive kami sa game. 'Yung first set namin nag relax kami sa endgame but ang good thing after that set naka-recover kami, so thank you Lord,” said Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos.

Gandler provided the sparks in the early going and went on to produce a team-high 19 points while Molina and Doria scored 16 points apiece and Chay Troncoso added seven markers for the HD Spikers.

Dawn Catindig anchored Cignal’s defense, finishing with 22 excellent digs and 11 receptions while Cayuna shone with 24 excellent sets.

Gandler provided sparks in the early going and went on to produce 10 points while Molina and Gonzaga combined for eight markers.

Soltones showed the way for Akari with 14 points while Dindin Manabat added 12 markers and Faith Nisperos, Princess Madrigal, Fifi Sharma and Joy Soyud combined for 19 points.
Domingo, however, struggled in her Akari debut, ending up with two points in a one-and-a-half set stint.

Despite its first set loss, Cignal lorded it over Akari in all departments, finishing with 64 attack points, 11 blocks and four aces. The Chargers wound up with 42, seven and two, respectively.

The HD Spikers, however, yielded 22 unforced errors, five more than the Chargers.

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