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Gonzaga, Daquis seek to sustain HD Spikers’ surprising run

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Games Today:
(Bacoor STRIKE Gym)

2 p.m. – Marinerang Pilipina vs Generika-Ayala
4 p.m. – Foton vs Sta. Lucia
6 p.m. – Cignal vs PLDT Home Fibr

BACOOR CITY — After an impressive run last conference, Cignal marches back to warzone as it battles PLDT Home Fibr in the opening salvo of the Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference at the Bacoor STRIKE gym here.

Action starts at 6 p.m. with the HD Spikers riding the crest of its championship run in the All-Filipino Conference of this prestigious women’s club league.

Also seeing action are Marinerang Pilipina, which takes on Generika-Ayala at 2 p.m., and Foton, which collides with Sta. Lucia in the 4 p.m. second game of this explosive opening triple-header.

Opening ceremonies, meanwhile, are set on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

With a powerful roster composed of Filipino-American setter Alohi Robins-Hardy and veteran Jovelyn Gonzaga, Rachel Anne Daquis, Mylene Paat and Jheck Dionela, the HD Spikers made heads turn when they dethroned Petron and coasted all the way to the finals of the All-Filipino Conference last month.

Although it fell prey to a more seasoned, more fluid F2 Logistics squad, Cignal still made a strong statement that it is ripe to finally with the title.

And Daquis admitted that there is pressure entering this brand-new conference.

“Yes, there is pressure. It will always be there,” said the comely skipper, who also serves as league ambassador.

“But we’re not letting that pressure get into our heads. We’re just focussed on one goal and that is to win the championship.”

Daquis added that their title run served as a major boost to their morale.
“Coming from a successful run in the All-Filipino Conference, the experience made us realized that we could do anything for as long as we put our hearts and minds into it.”

True enough, the HD Spikers are more experienced and more matured coming into the Invitationals.

Gonzaga, Paat, Robins-Hardy and Roselyn Doria, in fact, are coming off a successful stint in the first leg of the Asean Grand Prix in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, giving them the exposure they badly need while the league was on a break.

The Philippines lost a pair of matches to Indonesia and Thailand, but managed to eke out a five-set conquest of Vietnam to bring home a bronze medal.

With that in mind, PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb admitted that they would be cautious against the HD Spikers as well as other league heavyweights like Petron and F2 Logistics.

“Petron and F2 Logistics have always been consistent, but you can never underestimate other teams, especially Cignal,” said the seasoned tactician.
“They (HD Spikers) can pull off a surprise. We have to be at our best every time we play against them.”