Sacrifice pays off as HD Spikers seize second straight title

Sacrifice pays off as HD Spikers seize second straight title
IN IT TO WIN IT. Saku Capate won both conference and Finals MVP all while leading Cignal HD to its second championship in a row.

With the championship in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference so close they can taste it, Cignal HD was not letting this one go to another fifth set.

Battling back from behind in the fourth frame, the HD Spikers got the better of tournament-long tormentor Mega Builders once and for all, 25-23, 25-17, 22-25, and 25-22 on Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Only needing two points for the title, but still feeling the Volley Bolt breathing down their necks, Oliver Almadro’s wards showed their might on both ends. “They believed in the system and then pinakita nila ang maturity,” he said post-game.

Vince Mangulabnan set the table for a Peter Torres quick attack and then Ysay Marasigan sent back Fauzi Ismail’s spike to win the second straight championship for Cignal. “Ang lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila, mental toughness will win this for us,” their mentor said.

In the previous conference, they made quick work of Philippine Air Force in the Finals.

The HD Spikers were not the team-to-beat in this conference, however, as the Volley Bolt went undefeated until the last game of the eliminations. “I did not expect this championship in this conference. We know NU is much way ahead sa amin,” Almadro said, talking about their National University-backed rivals.

That win run of Mega Builders included a surprising sweep of Cignal.

Almadro’s wards only got better and better once the playoffs rolled around, however, and drew first blood in the best-of-three championship round.

Still, Mega Builders put up a fight in Game 2 and pushed back in a five-set thriller to set up a winner-take-all decider.

There, the HD Spikers got the first two sets before surrendering the third. They found themselves down, 15-17, before conference MVP Saku Capate spearheaded their comeback.

In the end, Capate had 16 points, all but one coming from kills, en route to also claiming Finals MVP.

However, Almadro was also quick to point to the contributions of skipper Marasigan who top-scored with 17 points, including the championship-clincher. “Ysay will be Ysay Marasigan. If I’m giving Finals MVP, I’m giving it to him and Capate,” he expressed.

Edmar Bonono and Peter Torres also added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Cignal which also has many other former collegiate stars on its lineup. “Ang daming nag-sacrifice sa team ko. Mark [Alfafara], he is one of my starter, pero nag-sacrifice siya ng playing time kasi maganda nilalaro ng team,” the head coach shared.

He then continued, “Lahat sila willing mag-sacrifice kaya ‘di ako nahirapan pang i-motivate sila.”

Ismail paced the Volley Bolt with 21 points while Kim Malabunga scored 14 markers of his own.

With top hitter Bryan Bagunas having an off-game and only having 11 points, however, their campaign falls short of its ultimate goal.

In the battle for the bronze medal, Air Force came out on top of Sta. Elena in straight sets, 25-22, 25-20, and 25-23.

Alnakran Abdilla showed the way for them with 25 points

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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