Cignal may have lost its gems, but it’s quietly assembling a competitive team for the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix starting Feb. 17.
Team manager Edgar Barroga revealed that former national team skipper Rachel Anne Daquis would still serve as their cornerstone following the departure of Honey Royse Tubino to Cocolife, Maica Morada to Australia, Paneng Mercado and Chie Saet to the rival Premier Volleyball League (PVL) and head coach George Pascua and Michelle Laborte to Sta. Lucia Realty.
Daquis will be joined by fellow Far Eastern University (FEU) standout Cherry Vivas while star libero Jheck Dionela would be returning as well as backup setter May Macatuno, service specialist Ivy Carlos and Mylene Paat, who will see action after campaigning for Adamson University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
The HD Spikers also played their cards well in the off-season.
They acquired the services of Rialen Sante, Janine Navarro and Shirley Salamagos from Sta. Lucia Realty as well as Acy Masangkay, the chief playmaker when Petron made a historic 13-0 run of the All-Filipino Conference in 2015.
For good measure, the HD Spikers drafted Cindy Amutan, a young libero from De La Salle-Dasmarinas in the National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCAA).
“This is a fighting and very exciting team.”
“We may have lost our key players, but we were still able to fill up all the key positions. With the presence of two or three very good imports, this team will be able to contend against the heavyweights of the Grand Prix.”
“We’re already close to reaching an agreement with our imports. Everything would definitely be cleared by next week.”
Barroga said the management already picked a head coach, but the formal announcement would be made either at the end of this week or early next week.
He, however, stressed that former Philippine Army tactician Rico de Guzman already reached an agreement to be part of the coaching staff.
“Rico would be one of our coaches. I’m sure he will come up with valuable contributions to the team.”
Barroga said there’s no need to raise concern over their participation.
In fact, their star player in Daquis may be abroad, but she’s still in great shape and is expected to blend perfectly well with the new faces on the squad.
Aside from her, national team mainstay Jovelyn Gonzaga is still around and is expected to suit up next year after crashing with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the crucial stretch of the Grand Prix last year.
“Rachel may be abroad, but she’s still in good condition.”
“She is a veteran. I know she can cope up and build great chemistry with her new teammates sooner than expected.”
Barroga stressed that re-building the squad that won the Invitational Conference title last year is truly a major challenge.
But he’s ready.
At least, this is already a very good start.