The exceptional partnership of Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Daquis has soared to new heights, propelling the Cignal HD Spikers to the semifinals with a resounding 25-21, 25-15, 25-15 victory over the Choco Mucho Flying Titans in the PVL Invitational Conference at the PhilSports Arena on Tuesday, July 18.

Gonzaga and Daquis, affectionately known as ‘Gonzaquis,’ expressed that their tandem is truly one of a kind, enhancing not only their individual performances but also their team’s overall game.

As both wing spikers, Gonzaquis were reunited when Gonzaga joined Cignal after her tenure with the Army, which opted out of this Invitational Conference.

“It’s interesting because every time Buday [Rachel] and I are together, not to boast, we always manage to reach the semifinals or finals. My game truly transforms when Rachel is by my side, and I can confidently say the same for her and even Coach Shaq [Delos Santos],” said Gonzaga, who contributed 13 points against Choco Mucho.

Gonzaga, who previously played for the HD Spikers in the now-defunct Philippine Superliga (PSL), went on to discuss her return to Cignal, emphasizing that it was mainly because of Daquis and Delos Santos.

“I believe it all comes down to the trust we have in each other. In 2019, when I had just recovered from an ACL injury, I had accepted that I wouldn’t be able to return to the national team, thinking that everything was already lost because I had fallen out of shape. However, Coach Shaq was the first to place his trust in me and approached me, saying ‘play for the national team again.’

“I told him, ‘Coach, I’m already out of shape,’ but he assured me, saying ‘I have tremendous faith in you.’ It feels incredible to play under such a coach. Everyone asked me why I returned to Cignal despite receiving offers from other teams, and I explained that I have grown accustomed to Coach Shaq’s system, his unwavering trust in me, and having Rachel Anne Daquis there. I didn’t want to start over from scratch. So, ultimately, it boils down to trust.”

The 35-year-old Daquis then expressed how the 31-year-old Gonzaga has been a tremendous support, particularly during crucial matches.

“First and foremost, I want to credit Jov, my teammates, and Coach Shaq. I struggled in the two previous games and even during training, but Jovs [Gonzaga] told me to believe in myself, assuring me that we perform differently when it comes to important matches,” said Daquis, who contributed 12 points against Choco Mucho. (ai/mnm)