Analysis: Cignal survives against Cocolife

The fifth set of the match between the Cignal HD Spikers and the Cocolife Asset Managers will be remembered for the shaky officiating. Both teams were at the receiving end of glaring controversial calls that were not taken lightly by players and team officials alike. Coach Moro Branislav was even given a yellow card when his emotions got the best of him. That Cocolife protesting this game won’t be a surprise. But there’s no protesting about the HD Spikers letting the victory nearly slip away.

The Asset Managers looked to be finished in the fourth set as the HD Spikers own an 18-12 lead after a Janine Navarro dink. Coach Branislav called timeout to remind his players about their movement inside the court. At that moment, Cignal just started to unravel. Justine Tiu scored on a check ball to trim the lead to five. Navarro jumped a split second late for the block even though the high set to Tiu is predictable. This caused the ball to glance through her fingers and a point was given to Cocolife.

Still frustrated with the previous call, Navarro got the set in the next rally but spiked the ball out. Then Rapril Aguilar made a poor reception of Arianna Angustia’s serve which forced libero Jheck Dionela to make a desperation second ball attempt. The ball came back to Cignal’s side after a joust as Roselyn Doria somehow passed the ball to May Macatuno who executed a set for Rachel Anne Daquis without reading where the defense was.

As a result, the new PSL Ambasadress had to adjust her attempt to Macatuno’s serve. She was not able to get much lift even though she was just a step or two in front of the attack line. Still, Daquis made contact but she pushed the ball wide. It was now Coach Edgar Barroga’s turn to call a timeout after their lead was reduced in half.

Cocolife gains new life

Barroga mentioned about varying their spikes for better placement in their last huddle. However, Daquis opted a cross court hit even though four Cocolife players were already waiting to dig instead of executing a soft shot that will land in the zone between the net blockers and the floor defenders. Thus, Kalei Mau was able to receive the shot and the ball went directly to Cignal’s side. Anticipating the ball accidentally caused all six HD Spikers to bunch together near the net.

This scenario often brews trouble for it’s not clearly defined who will receive the ball and players have to sprint to their attack positions. Those premises resulted in Macatuno diving to save the ball. But while the ball is in the air, both Daquis and Dionela had the intention of getting the second touch.

Luckily, Daquis gave way but Dionela had to dash where the ball was. Unfortunately, she set the ball too high for Cocolife to adjust defensively. Ma. Cecilia Bangad and Tiu were able to anticipate Navarro’s shot while Anggustia provided support near the sideline. That forced Navarro to push the ball out yet again. Cignal’s lead is just down to two, 18-16. Cignal then responded to extend the lead to three.

The errors kept on coming for the HD Spikers. Daquis’ service landed outside while Navarro’s succeeding spike did not clear the net. The tally was tied at 19 when Tiu found an open Zone 6. Cignal’s woes continued as Navarro mistimed a good Macatuno set for a shot that turned into a kill block which gave Cocolife the lead.

Cignal’s turn to respond

Cocolife banked on its defense to bring the count at 24-21. They were in high spirits knowing that they are just point away from a fifth set. Cignal had other plans though as they tried to salvage the set that they were comfortably leading. Honey Royse Tubino converted two spikes from Zone 4 that ignited an extended set. But everything went downhill for the volleybelles in red from that point. Tubino pushed her spike wide and an Angustia quick strike off a Dionela service misreception ended the fourth set, 26-24.

Libero showdown

Jheck Dionela is holding her ground against the great liberos she has faced in the PSL All Filipino Conference 2018 so far. After a showdown with Dawn Macandili of F2 Logistics, she held her own versus national team libero Denden Lazaro. While Dionela had 15 great receptions, her 31 excellent digs in 38 attempts were vital to Cignal’s breakthrough victory. Meanwhile, Lazaro had 10 receptions in 29 tries to go with 38 excellent digs.

Mau tentative?

Kalei Mau continues to build her resume with impressive outing of 16 attack points and four blocks. However, she seemed tentative when they needed just one point to close the fourth set. She attempted soft shots in hopes of catching the HD Spikers asleep. Her spikes does not possess a full swing too. She could have tried one hard swing to settle the set once and for all. But if she is pacing herself, I can only imagine how scary it will be for the rest of the PSL once she fully recovers from shoulder surgery.