May 29, 2024

Spikers’ Turf: Bryan Bagunas, Cignal spoil Marck Espejo's Philippine homecoming with Criss Cross

Spikers’ Turf: Bryan Bagunas, Cignal spoil Marck Espejo
Bryan Bagunas buoys Cignal over Criss Cross. | Photo (c) Spikers’ Turf

In the opening chapter of a brewing rivalry, Cignal sent a statement over Criss Cross Sunday night.


The HD Spikers spoiled the homecoming of Marck Espejo after fending off the King Crunchers, 20-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12, in the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the PhilSports Arena.


The defending champions rose to the top of the standings, elevating their record to a league-best five wins in as many games, all while dragging the Rebisco-backed powerhouse down to 4-1.


Bryan Bagunas battled through cramps and finished with a game-high 27 points on 26 attacks and an ace.


Jau Umandal also had himself a field day, putting up 20 markers for Cignal, while Wendel Miguel scored 10. 


After splitting the first two sets, both teams figured in a close encounter in the third frame. 


Cignal managed to move ahead 19-18 before Bagunas pushed the lead to two with an off-the-block hit. However, as soon as he landed, Bagunas’ left leg started to cramp as he limped towards the bench. 


Espejo seized the opening as he towed Criss Cross, scoring five in a set-clinching 7-3 spurt. 


With Cignal’s back against the wall, Bagunas returned in the fourth frame, conniving with Umandal in turning an 11-17 deficit into a 23-22 lead. 


Jude Garcia tied the count at 23, but Bagunas fired consecutive blows to forge a decider. 


Come the last set, Cignal held a slim 10-9 edge before Bagunas went on a personal 3-1 run, pushing his side ahead, 13-10. Garcia tried to stop the bleeding but JP Bugaoan hammered down a quick attack for match point, setting up Umandal’s clincher.


Garcia was the leading scorer for Criss Cross with 20 points, on top of 21 receptions.


Espejo, who was coming off a championship conquest with the Incheon Korean Air Jumbos in the KOVO, poured 19 points in the losing cause.


Kim Malabunga had 13 points, while Criss Cross captain Ysay Marasigan scored 12.


Following the big win, Cignal seeks to sustain its blistering momentum when it collides with D’Navigators on April 17, Wednesday.


Criss Cross, on the other hand, aims to regain its winning form when it takes on PGJC-Navy on April 19, Friday.


Both matches will be held at the Ynares Sports Arena.