MANILA, Philippines — Tai Bierria has no problem coming off the bench as she trusts coach Shaq Delos Santos’ strategy, which has put Cignal on the cusp of making its first-ever finals appearance in the Premier Volleyball League.
Bierria, who started embracing her new role since their last two elimination round games, unleashed another 21-point performance as Cignal stunned the powerhouse Creamline, 23-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-18, to seize a 2-0 lead in the semifinals round on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The American spiker was quick to make adjustments as a substitute spiker since they beat F2 Logistics and Choco Mucho to earn the last semis berth last week.
“Me being a competitor, I wanna be on the floor 24/7, but it’s been working. You know what I mean? So you kinda got to put your pride aside, and come in and do your job whenever. And we’ve been winning, so I tell Coach Shaq — I trust you, every single time he tells me I’m not gonna be in the game for the starting six,” said Bierria after keeping the HD Spikers unscathed as they haven’t dropped a single set in their first two semis games.
Delos Santos’ game plan has been working wonders for Cignal as it already won four consecutive matches. That’s why the New Mexico University product has no complaints about her special niche.
“I feel like it’s actually been a help if I look at it that way, you know what I mean? I get to rest for the first set mostly, I get to see the game in a different light other than just being in it the entire time, you know what I mean? So, it’s been beneficial,” Bierria said.
Bierria, who is averaging 21.0 points in the semis, also lauded her local teammates bannered by Ria Meneses, Gel Cayuna, Ces Molina, Angeli Araneta, and Rachel Anne Daquis after displaying grace under pressure to put a dent on Creamline’s Grand Slam bid.
“I feel like we’re characterized by our ability to get better every single set, every single point, even throughout this season. Like, we’re not the same team that we were at the beginning of the season. So, just the maturity is what kind of keeps us in it in those long sets,” the outside spiker said. “We have a lot of veterans on the team, a lot of girls have been playing for a really long time. And so, in those tight sets, in those tight moments, they really know how to put the ball away and just keep their composure.”
“I respect Creamline so much, but at the same time, everybody is beatable. So we went into the game knowing we had a chance, and we’re not just cowering like before. Creamline, big ups to them, big response from them, they played a great game. But yeah, we have the same mentality after every single win,” she added.
Despite the big win, Bierria vows she and the HD Spikers remain hungry in their last semis game against Petro Gazz on Tuesday at Philsports Arena, where they try to sweep the round and book their ticket to the finals.
“Just getting better. My mindset is focused on tomorrow, honestly. Getting in the gym, getting better tomorrow, and then we’ll focus on PetroGazz on Tuesday, I think it is. Yup, Tuesday. But yeah, tomorrow is when the work begins,” she said.
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