Tai Bierria takes charge as Cignal silences Choco Mucho’s semis bid


Cignal import Tai Bierria. –PVL PHOTO

Surrounded by a crowd predominantly rooting for the opponent and cheering her every mistake, Tai Bierria said she summoned that quality people often call pride. Or maybe spunk. Or daring.

The Cignal import had a far better term for it.

“Angas. Yeah, I learned that word,” Bierria said.

The HD Spikers rode Bierria’s inspired play and flipped a disappointing first set into a 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 victory over Choco Mucho on Tuesday, clinching the last Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference semifinal berth even before the fourth set began.

Because of the points system that would be applied to break ties, the Flying Titans needed a little extra to advance to the semifinals: A four-set victory. And their fans roared them on especially after they clinched the opening set.

That may have been Choco Mucho’s downfall as Bierria heard the cheers that followed every Cignal error.

“It kinda gave me a little extra attitude on the court; like you do something wrong [and] you hear all the cheers,” said Bierra, who finished with a game-high 18 points.

“Okay I’mma shut you up,” she added.

WATCH: Tai Bierria after Cignal beat Choco Mucho in front of 4,000 fans: It kinda gave me a litte extra attiude on the court. You do something wrong, you hear all the cheers. I’m like okay, I’m gonna shut you up. Little angas, I learned that word. | via Lance Agcaoili/Inquirer Sports

Posted by Inquirer Sports on Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Flying Titans were silenced by the end of the third set. The HD Spikers took that one for a 2-1 set lead and were through to the semifinals after pocketing two sets. Still, Cignal made sure it would advance to the next round with a little extra sauce to carry over to the next round.

“This is super special,” Bierria after Cignal joined Creamline, Chery Tiggo and Petro Gazz in the next round. “Considering how hard we worked, this is a blessing.”

Both teams opted to go all-Filipino at the start of the game, but that did not slow Bierria down. She finished with 14 kills and four aces to shush the Choco Mucho fans who made up most of the 4,000-strong crowd.

Creamline will carry a 7-1 (win-loss) record into the semifinals. The Cool Smashers’ lone loss was against the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, who beat the Angels of Petro Gazz, 25-16, 25-22, 27-25 in the second game.

Chery Tiggo advanced with a 6-2 record while Cignal clinched the last seat in the next round with a 5-3 card.

Ces Molina provided ample help for Bierria as she delivered 13 points and nine digs.

After losing the first set, Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos reminded his wards that they only need two sets to advance, but he still wanted his wards to show their lethal form.

“I told them this is our chance, we shouldn’t let go of this opportunity. And to be honest, we have more experience than Choco Mucho,” Delos Santos said in Filipino.

The HD Spikers woke up from that first-set crash as Bierria towed her team to a 23-19 lead in the second set before reaching set point, 24-20, with a block on the Flying Titans import Odina Aliyeva.

“We’ve had grueling practices, and that helped us in games like this,” Bierria said.

Choco Mucho’s hopes further dimmed after injuries struck two of its well-loved stars. Kat Tolentino hurt her right knee after trying to dig Bierria’s spike midway in the second set before Des Cheng suffered an injury on her right pinky finger, which took her out of the game with the HD Spikers leading, 21-15.

Tolentino returned in the fourth, but by then the semifinal door had been slammed on the Flying Titans’ faces.

Choco Mucho exited with a 3-5 record.

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