PSL: PH Team squeaks past Cignal

Games Thursday: (FilOil Flying V Centre)
2:00 pm — Philippines vs Smart-Army
4:15 pm — Generika-Ayala vs Petron
7:00 pm — UP-UAI vs F2 Logistics

IMUS CITY — The Philippine women’s national team again survived with a depleted line-up after squeaking past Cignal, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21, in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference Tuesday at the Imus Sports Center here.

Raqchel Ann Daquis of Cignal attacks on MJ Philips and Mika Reyes of RP Team
Raqchel Ann Daquis of Cignal attacks on MJ Philips and Mika Reyes of RP Team

From a nine-woman team in last Saturday’s win over Cocolife, only eight mighty players donned the national colors with team captain Aby Maraño and pool member MJ Phillips leading the way with 17 points apiece to win their second match in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, UCPB Gen and SOGO Hotel with ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as broadcast partners.

Due to lack of players, the usual middle blocker Maraño played as opposite spiker and showed her versatility hitting 13 spikes, a pair of blocks and two aces including six excellent receptions in the midseason conference that also has Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Mueller and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.

“I’m proud of our players because they are flexible in adjusting to other positions, especially our team captain who played as opposite spiker. She’s always ready,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos on Maraño, who impressed the people of Imus together with Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. Vice President Peter Cayco and City Vice Mayor Ony Cantimbuhan.

Phillips also made a rousing debut wearing the national jersey as she tallied 16 kills off her 17 points.

Mainstay Ces Molina was also instrumental with six hits including 14 digs and six receptions while setter Kim Fajardo made 15 excellent and libero Dawn Macandili finishing with 18 digs.

Delos Santos, however, lamented that they are still far from ready for the Asian Games in Jakarta this August.
“Honestly speaking we’re happy because we keep on winning here but we’re still far from our best form and we still have a lot of things to do,” he said.

“We need more practices. Hopefully, we’ll get there in the training camp and in the international competition. For now, we’ll do it one at a time until we’re complete,” added Delos Santos, who will be calling the shots anew as they battle Smart-Army on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Nationals pulled away late in the first set to escape the neck-and-neck duel with the HD Spikers before erupting in the second set with a 10-point rout for the 2-0 lead.

The Nationals scored six straight points to inch two-point closer from winning in the third set, 23-16, but the HD Spikers fought back and answered with a five-point rally of their own to trim the lead to 21-23 before Maraño and Molina nailed the game-winning spikes to end the match in 72 minutes.

It was Cignal’s first defeat in the tourney but it will not affect its clean 3-0 win-loss record in Pool B.

National pool member Mylene Paat played for her mother club and finished with 11 points while Rachel Anne Daquis and Mumay Vivas added eight markers apiece.