Mau, Robins-Hardy brought Hawaiian heat to their teams — and more

It has been a week since the great show that was the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) All Filipino Conference 2019 had its closing night, with F2 Logistics and Cignal taking the center stage.

The Cargo Movers and the HD Spikers put a fitting ending to a three month’s worth of top-notch, all-local volleyball action built on 66 games, of which 16 were five-setters.

It was a different story for the two finalists arriving to the final show.

Back to the finals for seventh straight conference, Ramil de Jesus and his wards kicked off their campaign with a scintillating 11-game winning streak before suffering back-to-back losses.

Wrapping up the prelims as second-seed, the ladies in yellow have not drop a single game from that moment forward: making quick work of Sta. Lucia in the quarters and weathering Foton in the semis.

But while their route has been rather smooth, the Edgar Barroga-backed spikers’ trip was more challenging.

For starters, the HD Spikers finished prelims as fifth, thus denying them of a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis.

Outlasted by Generika Ayala in their first two encounters, Cignal stepped up when it mattered the most and won the quarters, booking a semis duel with Petron.

The Blaze Spikers, owner of six indoor conference titles, were heavily favored to advance to the championship series and meet F2 Logistics anew.

But in a stunning twist of fate, the HD Spikers changed the script and chalked themselves to the gold medal battle with an empathic back-to-back five-set victories against the erstwhile defending champs.

Built from a champion collegiate system, F2 Logistics parades former and current La Salle stars in Ara Galang, Aby Maraño, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Kim Fajardo, and Kim Dy to name a few.

Cignal, meanwhile, pride itself with Rachel Ann Daquis, Mylene Paat, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Roselyn Doria, Jheck Dionela and May Luna.

On paper, these two teams were already lethal contenders. But what really tipped the balance was the arrival of Fil-Hawaiin aces Kalei Mau and Alohi Robins-Hardy to the Cargo Movers and the HD Spikers, respectively.

With long-time skipper and soon-to-be-mother Cha Cruz-Behag out, F2 Logistics was in search of someone who could light up the scoreboards, help in the defense, and provide leadership.

Mau was the perfect fit — and more.

Following the disbandment of United Volleyball Club, the 24-year old outside hitter out of University of Arizona joined the de Jesus camp, filling in the void left by Cruz-Behag.

As expected from the national team member, Mau delivered the goods for F2 Logistics, capping off her impressive all conference long performance as the best scorer whilst earning the prestigious top honors.

In her first PSL finals stint, Mau didn’t disappoint and unloaded 46 big points across the two-game championship series, steering the Cargo Movers to their fourth league title.

Robins-Hardy, meanwhile, played a huge role as well for Cignal.

With a lineup composed of good attackers in Daquis, Paat and Gonzaga, the HD Spikers were in need of a playmaker who can run their arsenal efficiently.

What they got from acquiring the Brigham Young University alum was more than just a setter who bring out the best out of their spiker.

Versatile and reliable, the 6-foot-2 tall setter boosted Cignal’s net defense whilst providing additional firepower when converted as spiker, giving Barroga more cards to play with.

In fact, it was her one-two point that sealed the win for Cignal in their do-or-die semis against Petron.

They filled in the holes that have been plaguing their respective squad. For F2 Logistics — a team that relies on more than one player in point production — they got a go-to, prolific scorer. Cignal, meanwhile, acquired a a consistent, reliable playmaker.

Undoubtedly, F2 Logistics and Cignal are heavyweight teams already with or without Mau and Robins-Hardy.

But with them in the fold, the eventual champions Cargo Movers and the HD Spikers just became formidable.

F2 Logistics and Cignal seek to continue their winning ways when the PSL Invitationals Cup opens.

(Images from PSL)

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