Hot-starting Chargers go cold late in loss to Cignal

SANTA ROSA — It was a hot start until everything blew over.

Akari was unable to sustain a fiery opening frame as the Chargers ran out of gas in a four-set loss to Cignal to open their 2022 PVL Reinforced Conference campaign Saturday at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex here.

Behind the hot hands of Erika Raagas and Prisilla Rivera, Akari controlled the tempo of the first set, but could not get over a second-set loss to sputter to a 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 16-25 defeat at the hands of the HD Spikers.

Nonetheless, the Chargers showed impressive glimpses of their potential, bringing promise to what could be an exciting journey for the new franchise.

Rivera, the three-time Olympian tasked to bring Akari to relevance, led the ladies in magenta with 20 points off 17 kills, two blocks and an ace, while rookie Raagas was her usual aggressive self and finished with 16 points off 14 hits and two blocks.

Unfortunately for coach Jorge De Brito, no other Charger was able to finish in double figures, as the Brazilian mentor unsuccessfully juggled his rotation in the last two sets, hoping to find a spark.

Chances were given to Jho Maraguinot, Trisha Genesis, Gyra Barroga and Gen Casugod, but they were not able to rekindle the first-set fire ignited by the starters.

Another rookie in Ezra Madrigal turned in a solid performance with seven points.

Meanwhile, Cignal import Tai Bierria was a relentless presence all night long as she dished out 20 points off 17 kills, two blocks and an ace.

However, it was a reserve that proved to be the difference for the HD Spikers, as Chai Troncoso came off the bench to punish the Chargers’ sloppy defense with 12 points on a ridiculous 68.8% spiking efficiency in just two sets.

Akari looks to bounce back on Saturday as they face fellow opening-day loser United Auctioneers-Army, 2:30pm at the Philsports Arena.

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