All bets are off for the HD Spikers.
After starting the season full of promise with the recruitment of Filipino-American Shawna-Lei Santos, Mylene Paat, Janine Marciano and Paneng Mercado as well as the reactivation of former Most Valuable Player Venus Bernal, the HD Spikers suffered a grand collapse as import Lynda Morales crashed with an injury.
With Morales in walking boot, the HD Spikers did not only lose a prized middle blocker and a leader, it also threw their playbook out of the window as they are forced to start from scratch with the Puerto Rican Olympian out of the equation.
With that, Cignal lost all – but one game – in the double-round preliminaries.
And now, it is teetering on the brink of bowing out of title derby as the Cargo Movers are tipped to come up with a dominant performance, especially with Hayley Spelman, Sydney Kemper, Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Aby Marano all in great shape.
But there is one player who refuses to go down without a fight. She will continue to man the backline for the HD Spikers no matter what, no matter how hard it could be.
She competed for Sammy Acaylar in University of Perpetual Help before joining the seasoned maestro in the 2013 Grand Prix to connive with Michelle Datuin, Aby Praca, Honey Royse Tubino, Danika Gendrauli and Bernal. The group pulled off the impossible as it shocked heavily favored PLDT in the semifinals before bowing to TMS-Army in the finals to settle for a runner-up finish.
But it appeared to be the last kick of the HD Spikers.
Datuin, Praca, Tubino and Gendrauli all left while Bernal went to corporate world. Former University of Santo Tomas star Carmela Tunay as well as former College of Saint Benilde stars Djanel Cheng, Janine Navarro and Jeanette Panaga were tapped to replace them.
But they, too, also left as the HD Spikers launched a major revamp.
Cheng and Navarro bolted for Cignal while Panaga returned to the Lady Blazers. For her part, Tunay quit volleyball to concentrate on her hosting career.
Still, Dionela opted to remain with the team.
Not yet out
Dionela said despite finishing the preliminaries with a 1-9 mark, they still have a chance to win the title if they would pull off an earth-shaking upset of F2 Logistics before pulling the rug from under reigning champion Foton.
It may look difficult, but if they will work hard and stay together as one solid unit, nothing is impossible. They may be down, but they’re definitely not yet out.
She added that being the underdogs is nothing new. In fact, with veterans like Laborte, Bernal, Chie Saet and Vivas, winning over a young squad like F2 Logistics is not impossible.
Dionela flashed a sweet smile. She’s obviously keeping the faith. She knows good things happen to those who are patient.