PVL: Lindsey Vander Weide, Petro Gazz overcome Cignal in finals opener
MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion Petro Gazz swept Cignal, 25-21, 27-25, 37-35, to take Game 1 of the best-of-three and move on the cusp of claiming its second straight Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lindsey Vander Weide led the Angels’ onslaught with a career-high 34 points in just three sets to beat the first-time PVL finalists, HD Spikers.
The American import out of University of Oregon nailed the last three points in the extended third set, where Petro Gazz held nine matchpoint advantages and saved four setpoint disadvantages before denying Cignal from forcing another set.
“Oh my gosh, that [third set] was stressful but I just knew whatever ball I got, I had to score. I really hurt my feelings when I hit that ball out but I knew we were gonna bounce back because that’s what we were doing every single point. So I was really confident the whole time even though it was a scary situation,” said Vander Weide, who dropped 31 kills, two blocks, and an ace.
Locals Myla Pablo, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and MJ Phillips also provided enough firepower for their team with setter Djanel Cheng distributing the goods with 18 excellent sets to inch a win closer to a golden repeat import-laden tournament, which they earned three years ago with a different roster.
Pontillas and Pablo had 10 points each, while Phillips had eight markers, highlighted by three blocks as the Angels try to clinch the franchise’s second straight championship in Game 2 on Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., at Philsports Arena.
Petro Gazz rookie coach Rald Ricafort said they learned their lesson from their last semis game against Cignal, where they failed to close out the match in straight sets.
“We learned our lesson from our previous game with Cignal, the other day. We missed our chance to end it in the third set. We said today, we can’t give them that kind of leeway. Our focus should be this championship and we’ll try to end it in two games,” said Ricafort in Filipino. “We will give our all. We can’t give Cignal a chance to regain their confidence.”
Cignal put up a gallant stand in the third set, saving Petro Gazz’s three matchpoint advantages as Ces Molina drilled a pair of attacks followed by Gel Cayuna’s ace to take a 28-27 lead.
Vander Weide tied the set twice before Pontillas brought back Petro Gazz at match points thrice only for substitute Chai Troncoso and import Tai Bierria to equalize all three spikes she delivered, 32-all
Molina pushed the HD Spikers on top anew, 34-33, but Vander Weide drilled three of her last four spikes to end the game in one hour and 54 minutes.
Bierria led the HD Spikers with 18 points off 17 attacks, despite not starting in the third before she was fielded back in the latter part of the set.
Molina had nine points and 11 receptions. Rose Doria chipped in eight markers, while Troncoso, Angeli Araneta, and Ria Meneses added seven each as Cignal tries to extend the series next week.