Co­co­l­ife bucks Cig­nal fight­back

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS -

Co­co­l­ife sur­vived a fu­ri­ous fight­back by an un­der­manned Cig­nal side in the third set as it pounded out a 25-22, 25-21, 28-26 vic­tory yes­ter­day to clinch the third semi­fi­nal berth in the Chooks to Go-Philip­pine Su­perliga Grand Prix at the Filoil Fly­ing V Cen­ter in San Juan.

Ser­bian im­ports Marta Drpa and Sara Klisura de­liv­ered the goods while Erika Alkuino came through with the match-clinch­ing block as the As­set Man­agers joined the fan­cied F2 Lo­gis­tics and Petron squads in the Fi­nal Four of the tour­na­ment bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as of­fi­cial broad­cast part­ner.

Co­co­l­ife will face Petron in the best-of-three semis while the top seeded Cargo Movers will take on the win­ner of the other quar­ters match pit­ting Foton and Sta. Lu­cia Realty be­ing played at presstime.

Com­ing in as a re­place­ment for Amer­i­can Tay­lor Mil­ton, Drpa came up with 11 digs and ac­counted for four of the As­set Man­agers’ eight blocks. She also ham­mered in 15 kills to fin­ish with game-high 19 points.

Klisura chipped in 14 kills and two aces for 16 points while pro­vid­ing the de­fen­sive mus­cle down the stretch to­gether with Alkuino, who foiled Rachel Anne Daquis’ at­tack that sealed the vic­tory for the As­set Man­agers.

It was a sorry loss for the HD Spik­ers, who came into the match with­out in­jured im­port Sonja Mi­lanovic and head coach Edgar Bar­roga, who is in the on­go­ing Palarong Pam­bansa in Vigan City with the Na­tional U boys’ team.

They also lost spiker Ja­nine Navarro mid­way through the third set due to in­jury.

Still, Co­co­l­ife coach Moro Branislav found Cig­nal a tough team Mi­lanovic “Be­lieve to beat. played. me, I Cig­nal like it came bet­ter into if this match with a to­tally dif­fer­ent psy­chol­ogy,” said Branislav, whose wards found them­selves in trou­ble af­ter Daquis ripped in a pow­er­ful kill to put Cig­nal ahead, 26-25, in the third frame.

But Klisura re­sponded with a strong kill to force an­other deuce game be­fore watch­ing set­ter Acy Masangkay fum­ble on her at­tack that set the stage for Alkuino’s match­clinch­ing block.

Branislav said this kind of char­ac­ter makes him be­lieve that they are ready against Petron, a pow­er­ful team that is look­ing to win its first Grand Prix crown af­ter three straight years of brides­maid fin­ishes. “We are ready for the semi­fi­nals con­tra Petron,” he said. “The next two to three days will be very cru­cial to our cham­pi­onship cam­paign. We will pre­pare hard for them.” Jeane Hor­ton tal­lied 17 points while Daquis chipped in 12 mark­ers for Cig­nal, who still man­aged to come up with a very good fight de­spite open­ing its cam­paign with­out a hand­ful of play­ers like Jove­lyn Gonzaga and Ja­nine Mar­ciano, who crashed with a knee in­jury last year.

Acy Masangkay of Cig­nal hits the floor to keep the ball in play dur­ing their quar­ters clash with Co­co­l­ife in the Su­perliga GP at the Filoil Fly­ing V Cen­ter.

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