Coming off championship, Petro Gazz and its reemerging star continue feeling their way under new coach
Grethcel Soltones and Petro Gazz find themselves in the same situation—they’re looking for a way back to their old form.
For the Angels, it’s about reinserting themselves into the conversation on favorites in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference, just a tournament removed from their last title.
“Since all the teams are strong, we’re taking it one game at a time,” said Soltones, who is also out to reestablish herself after a promising career as one of the potent scorers in the country was held down by a period of injuries.
Soltones finished with 14 points on Saturday as Petro Gazz looked to her as a spearhead in the team’s 28-26, 25-18, 25-13, over Cignal at Philsports Arena.
It was a second straight win for the Angels.
“We just kept the pace of our game,” Soltones said after bolstering Remy Palma’s team-leading 15 points.
Palma had 10 points on attacks in various fashions, while coming through with four blocks. Djanel Cheng tossed 19 excellent sets and Cienne Cruz and Jellie Tempiatura finished with 14 excellent receptions and 11 excellent digs, respectively, for the Angels.
The victory was a much-needed shot of confidence for the Angels, coming against the team it turned back in the Reinforced Conference Finals last season. After losing key players and hiring a new coach in Oliver Almadro, there were questions as to whether Petro Gazz could follow up its title conquest.
“This is a morale booster for us because we faced big teams to start our campaign, Creamline, Choco Mucho, then Cignal,” Almadro said.
Slowly, though, the Angels are finding their footing.
“I just told them, we have to get one game at a time and what I said to them is they did it before when they played in the finals, they can do it again. So it’s them. I just motivated and guided them,” Almadro said.
Equally important is that Soltones, the former San Sebastian star, is regaining her attacking confidence under Almadro. Of her total points on Saturday, 13 came off kills.
The Angels stood their ground in the first set as they blew a 24-21 advantage with Ces Molina, Rachel Anne Daquis, and Chai Troncoso pushing the HD Spikers to tie the set. Petro Gazz eventually took the opening set with Soltones’ cross-court attack and Gel Cayuna’s error from a 1-2 play.
The Angels then went on to coast to a 2-1 (win-loss) record.
Molina led the HD Spikers with 11 points and eight receptions, while Daquis added nine points and nine receptions. But Cignal, which was coming off a win over young squad Akari, gave up too many free points with its 22 errors.