New queens toasted
ANTIPOLO City—Packing the firepower needed against an enemy that has a lot of it, PetroGazz on Sunday night brought down powerhouse Creamline, 25-15, 28-30, 25-23, 25-19, as the Angels unseated the two-time defending champs to become the new Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference queens before an animated crowd at Ynares Center here.
Playing in their first finals, the Angels denied the three-peat bid of the Cool Smashers, who also won the Reinforced and Open Conferences last season and were on the verge of establishing a dynasty until they ran into PetroGazz here.
The Angels displayed so much desire, with celebrated imports Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson sustaining their awesome form all-tournament long and their locals more than holding their own against their celebrated Creamline counterparts.
“It’s a mental game, Creamline is a tough team. But my players committed themselves [starting] in Game 2 that they wanted this championship,” said PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog, who steered the Angels back from a 0-1 deficit in the best-of-three series to win.
Jeanette Panaga, Cherry Nunag, Jonah Sabete, Jovielyn Prado, Alyssa Layug, Cienne Cruz and Djanel Cheng did what they were supposed to, with their performances proving key for the Angels.
Creamline, which swept this conference and the next (Open) last year, took Game 1, 24-26, 25-16, 25-16, 25-22, but PetroGazz struck back barely 24 hours ago with a 15-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-12 victory to force the decider.
And what a way for the Angles to wrap it up.
Salas had her share of shots being blocked, but the power-hitting Cuban ace kept attacking from all angles still and finished with 30 points, doing most damage in the first three sets.
Johnson then took over in the fourth, combining with Nunag, Sabete and Panaga as the Angels broke away from a tight encounter to win pulling away.
Despite down in sets, 1-2, the Cool Smashers were still at it at 15-16 in the fourth as Panaga served long. But after Nunag scored on a quick attack and came up with a kill block off Alyssa Valdez and Risa Sato’s 1-2 play went wide, the Angels soared to a four-point cushion, and the defending champions never recovered.
Salas’ 30th hit ended a long rally spiked by another Nunag block off Valdez that made it 20-15, and Sabete made it a six-point cushion on a lucky serve that hit the net but sailed over and caught the Cool Smashers off-guard.
Though Valdez came up with her own off-the-block hit to snap Creamline’s scoring spell, Nunag knocked in another quick hit. And after Sato made an attack error, Johnson closed it out with two hits, clinching it with a smashing spike in the corner as confetti fell from the rafters.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.