Can Cignal and PLDT end the Petron-F2 championship saga?

Cignal and PLDT Home Fibr will be swinging for the fences when they go up against separate foes in the best-of-three semifinals of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix 2019.

Obviously the underdogs, the HD Spikers and the Power Hitters are tipped to go all out as they look to pull off big stunners on heavyweights Petron and F2 Logistics, respectively.

A win from either squad will ultimately put an end to the five-conference long Finals meeting of the Blaze Spikers and the Cargo Movers.

PLDT takes on F2 Logistics in the 4:14 curtain raiser before the 7 p.m. main event between Cignal and Petron on April 23 at the FilOil Flying V Center.

PLDT: LOOKING FOR REPEAT

F2 Logistics and PLDT have split their preliminary round encounters, with the former taking the first round win in straight sets while the latter chalked a four-set victory in the second round. If this any indication, their semifinals match-up is anybody’s ballgame.

The Power Hitters are parading a reliable import duo in outside hitter Kendra Dahlke and middle blocker Grace Lazard.

Dahlke, in fact, just came off a PSL career-high 37 points during their do-or-die quarterfinals against Generika. It was a welcome development for PLDT as the American outside hitter has had a slow start before finding her rhythm as the tournament progressed.

Lazard, meanwhile, has been hot for the squad since day one. The English middle blocker in the arguably best in her position this conference as she averages with 17.69 points per match.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”tl” dir=”ltr”>Lazard off the block, PLDT doubles in Generika Ayala, 8-4 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSLGrandPrix?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PSLGrandPrix</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSLonESPN5?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PSLonESPN5</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9alQczJ8zK”>https://t.co/9alQczJ8zK</a> <a href=”https://t.co/J2LYdkb7PP”>pic.twitter.com/J2LYdkb7PP</a></p>&mdash; Philippine SuperLiga Volleyball (@SuperLigaPH) <a href=”https://twitter.com/SuperLigaPH/status/1115557849088684033?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 9, 2019</a></blockquote>
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The Roger Gorayeb-backed squad’s strength lies on their middle offense and reception.

In their second-round clash, Lazard and Joyce Sta. Rita outperformed F2 Logistics’ Aby Marano and Majoy Baron, scoring 18 and 10, respectively, compared to the combined 13-point production from the F2 duo.

Good reception, of course, shouldn’t be a problem for the Power Hitters with libero Tatan Pantone and Alyssa Eroa and reliable passers Gretchel Soltones and Shola Alvarez in the fold.

With steady reinforcements and solid local cast in Soltones, Aiko Urdas and Jasmine Nabor, it is only a matter of good execution for PLDT to defeat the F2 Logistics anew.

CIGNAL: SHOOTING FOR UPSET

At the rate that Petron – still unbeaten in 15 games – is going, Cignal will need ever trick it could pull to advance in the Finals. It is still doable, though surely not a cakewalk.

The Blaze Spikers dismantled the HD Spikers during the prelims, both in straight sets. Petron, in fact, only needed 59 minutes to dispatch the latter in their second-round meeting.

What was clearly lacking for Cignal in both losses was reception. The Blaze Spikers, the best serving team of the tourney, fired 14 aces in round one before dropping 16 from the service deck in round two.

In order counter the offensive machine that was Petron, the HD Spikers have to stabilized their reception first so as to give more attacking opportunities to their hard-hitting imports Erica Wilson and Anastasia Artameva.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Erica Wilson continues to impress 👀<br><br>***<br>For more <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSLGrandPrix?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PSLGrandPrix</a> content, visit <a href=”https://t.co/ZIJiUnP27x”>https://t.co/ZIJiUnP27x</a>! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSLonESPN5?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PSLonESPN5</a> <a href=”https://t.co/CwzUP6UHVN”>pic.twitter.com/CwzUP6UHVN</a></p>&mdash; ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Sports5PH/status/1108684122233298944?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 21, 2019</a></blockquote>
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Wilson is currently leading the scoreboards as averages 21.07 points per match, 17.13 of those from spikes. Artameva is also stready with 13.40 average hits per game.

Wilson and Artameva will not be enough against a team who has Kath Bell and Stephanie Niemer. Thus, Edgar Barroga will need more from his local wards composed of veterans Rachel Ann Daquis and Mumay Vivas and national team campaigner Mylene Paat.

Daquis and Barroga’s familiarity with the system of Petron coach Shaq delos Santos will also be vital for Cignal, as the outside hitter played for the Blaze Spikers in 2015 while the Cignal mentor have worked with delos Santos for an international tourney in 2016.

Stats from: https://vballdb.000webhostapp.com/

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