PVL: Petro Gazz sweeps Cignal to win Reinforced crown anew
MANILA, Philippines — It took three years for Petro Gazz to defend its Premier Volleyball Reinforced Conference championship due to the long hiatus caused by the pandemic.
But the Angels stayed on top of the import-laden tournament with a different roster and only one dominant foreign player Lindsey Vander Weide as they swept first-time finalists, Cignal HD Spikers, 25-17, 22-25, 25-12, 25-22, in Finals Game 2 on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.
Vander Weide sustained her stellar game to close out the series and deliver the franchise’s second PVL championship, defending the crown won by imports Janisa Johnson and Wilma Salas in the 2019 Reinforced Conference, where Petro Gazz beat Creamline in a do-or-die Game 3.
Vander Weide led the Angels with 19 points, while Pablo unleashed 17 points, including the two clutch attacks in the fourth set to clinch their second straight Reinforced Conference — the second winningest PVL club after Creamline, which has won five titles.
Besides their American import out of University of Oregon and Pablo, who won her first title since 2017 with the defunct Pocari Sweat, the locals also stepped up as Remy Palma also rose to the occasion as she provided five of Petro Gazz’s 12 blocks to finish with 18 points, while MJ Phillips added 12 markers off five kills, three blocks, and two aces.
Setter Djanel Cheng, one of the four holdovers from their 2019 championship run with Jonah Sabete, Cienne Cruz, and Chie Saet, displayed another brilliant playmaking that resulted in the Angels’ balanced attack, finishing with 26 excellent sets on top of six points
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas became the first player to win crowns in the UAAP, V-League, Philippine Superliga, and the PVL as she contributed five points and 13 digs, while libero Bang Pineda protected the floor with 22 digs and 17 excellent receptions.
Vander Weide unleashed a career-high 34 points in Game 1 as Petro Gazz drew first blood with a 25-21, 27-25, 37-35 victory over Cignal last Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Angels reached the Finals with the help of the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, who forced a five-setter against the Creamline Cool Smashers, to gain an advantage in points and break a tie with their identical 2-1 records, setting Finals duel with the HD Spikers.
Petro Gazz came out short in the second set as Rachel Anne Daquis delivered the crucial attacks to tie the game at one set apiece. But the Angels never wavered and dominated the third and pulled away in the fourth with Palma catching fire to give her team an 18-11 spread.
However, Ces Molina and Tai Bierria refused to give up and cut down the lead to one, 20-19. Vander Weide stopped the bleeding and scored three straight points, 23-20, before Pablo pushed her team to match point, 24-20.
Bierria and Molina saved two points for Cignal but Pablo soared to deliver the championship-clinching spike to end the match in one hour and 58 minutes.
Molina led the HD Spikers with 14 points off nine attacks, four aces, and a block. Bierria and Rose Doria had 12 and 11 markers, respectively, as Cignal settled for silver in its first PVL finals appearance.