Cignal rode behind Marck Espejo’s historic feat as the HD Spikers laid claim to the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference throne by knocking the crown off the head of Go for Gold-Air Force in a hard-fought, 21-25, 25-22, 24-26, 25-16, 15-6, Finals Game 1 win Tuesday at the Paco Arena.
The Finals Most Valuable Player uncorked a league-record 43 points scattered from 33 attacks, eight aces and two kill blocks and laced it up with 22 excellent receptions and eight digs to power Cignal to completing a sweep of the title this season after annexing the Reinforced Conference months back.
“Sobrang happy and overwhelming, hindi namin lubos maisip na kami pa rin magchachampion kasi ang daming nawala e. Nagpapasalamat ako siyempre kay Lord kasi binigay niya sa amin ‘to,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, whose wards outlasted the Jet Spikers in the series opener also in five sets.
Meanwhile, Sta. Elena bagged the bronze medal with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-19, victory over University of Perpetual Help.
But the highlight of the night was Espejo, who also won the 2nd Best Open Spiker award.
He erased the previous scoring record of 41 by Howard Mojica last August 19, 2015 when Emilio Aguinaldo College faced Ateneo.
With Air Force looking to extend the series, Espejo took matters into his own hands to help Cignal take the fourth frame and force another decider.
Then Espejo, who previously dropped 55 points in a UAAP game back in April 21, 2018 in the Final Four against Far Eastern University, fired five points in the HD Spikers’ 9-3 to build a considerable gap.
Air Force tried to mount a comeback as it moved within four but Espejo answered with five points in the HD Spikers’ last six markers to seal the deal.
Conference MVP Ysay Marasigan chipped in 11 points while Edmar Bonono also added 11 markers and nine digs. Vince Mangulabnan steered the offense with 30 excellent sets while Manuel Sumanguid led the floor defense with 15 excellent receptions and 10 digs.
Air Force, who surrendered their second straight crown to Cignal, was led by 1st Best Open Spiker winner Ran Abdilla with 18 points. Fauzi Ismail had 16 markers while 1st Middle Blocker winner Francis Saura and Kim Malabunga finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Rikko Marmeto tallied 28 excellent receptions and 18 digs in the loss while Jessie Lopez ended with 22 excellent sets.
The other individual awards winners were Cignal’s Anjo Pertierra (2nd Best Middle Blocker), Ricky Marcos (Best Libero) and Joshua Retamar (Best Setter) of Sta. Elena.