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Paat, HD Spikers grab 1st semis berth

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MALOLOS CITY – Cignal hacked out a 25-22, 25-19, 25-20 win over PLDT Home Fibr to snatch the first semifinal berth of the Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center.

With national team stalwart Mylene Paat at the helm, the HD Spikers made short work of the Power Hitters, winning in just one hour and 29 minutes to seize their fifth straight win and become the first team to advance to the next round of this prestigious women’s club tourney.

Paat delivered 18 points built on 14 kills, three blocks and an ace laced with eight digs while Rachel Anne Daquis and Janine Navarro delivered 13 markers apiece for the HD Spikers, who also ruled this short – but very competitive – conference two years ago.

Filipino-American playmaker Alohi Robins-Hardy was also impressive, finishing with 19 excellent sets with five points while libero Jheck Dionela was accounted for 13 digs and six excellent receptions.

Cignal will shoot for an elimination round sweep when it battles Petron tomorrow at the Caloocan Sports Complex.

“We can’t afford to relax, knowing that we are still unbeaten,” said Paat, who will play a crucial role when the Nationals compete in the 30th Southeast Asian Games this December.

“We need to learn how to avoid being complacent in the last stretch of this conference. We also have to be consistent every time.”

Far Eastern University standout Jerili Malabanan nailed 15 points while Shola Alvarez had 12 markers, 10 digs and nine receptions for the Power Hitters, who played without head coach Roger Gorayeb.

The legendary mentor remains at the hospital, leaving the coaching chores to Clint Malazo.

PLDT is now teetering on the brink of eliminations with a 1-3 record.