By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The star-studded Cignal HD Spikers are only one win away from a dominating unblemished 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference campaign.
Cignal showed no mercy against the AMC-Cotabato Spikers in Game 1 of the tournament finals, 25-22, 25-22, 28-26, and reached their 14th consecutive win without a single defeat last March 29, 2023.
Philippine national team superstar Marck Espejo led the charge for the HD Spikers and torched Cotabato with his 26-point outing built from 22 successful attacks.
Every time Cotabato got on a spiking groove, it was Espejo who halted their momentum and sparked Cignal’s run that put them up again for the majority of the last two sets.
Aside from his 26-point eruption, Espejo also tallied three service aces and one block backstopped by Ysay Marasigan’s 12 points.
EJ Casaña also stepped up to the occasion and orchestrated the HD Spikers offense to perfection after dishing out 17 excellent sets.
On the other hand, it was Jao Umandal who kept Cotabato’s spirits up after registering 15 points built from 14 successful attacks but needed more help from his teammates to outduel the stacked lineup of the HD Spikers.
“Well, credit to them all. I said it’s really the collective effort of everyone to win. Our character will really be tested, they will really test our system, patience, and camaraderie,” said Cignal’s head coach Dexter Clamor.
Cignal will look to rack up their 15th-straight win of the Open Conference and raise another championship trophy if they take down Cotabato today at 5:30 PM.