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 Thursday 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.
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.
Foton advances past Sta. Lucia
The Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy are semis-bound after outwitting the Sta. Lucia Realtors in four sets.
Meanwhile, Foton took down Sta. Lucia, 25-27, 25-15, 25-22, 25-11, to keep its semifinal hopes alive in Pool D.
Rookie sensation Eya Laure put a light on the dimming semifinals chances of the Tornadoes as she delivered 16 attacks, two aces and a block. Shaya Adorador had 15 points while Mina Aganon and Marian Buitre chipped in 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Foton tied Sta. Lucia at No. 2 spot of Pool D with identical 2-3 win-loss record behind idle leader F2 Logistics (3-1).
MJ Phillips carried the cudgels of the Lady Realtors with 16 points, while Pam Lastimosa had 13 points with 14 digs and five excellent receptions, only for their squad to give up 29 errors and fail to assure a semis berth.