PVL: Petro Gazz books semifinals ticket after fending off Akari
MANILA, Philippines — Petro Gazz clinched the second semifinal berth in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference as it turned back also-ran Akari, 25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, on Thursday at Philsports Arena.
Grethcel Soltones led the Angels’ balanced attack with a game-high 20 points built on 16 attacks and four aces to go with 12 digs as they joined the top seed Creamline Cool Smashers as the first two semifinalists after improving to a 5-2 record and clinching a ticket by virtue of superior set ratio.
Two more remaining semis berths are still up for grabs with F2 Logistics (5-2) a win away from clinching the third and PLDT (4-2), Chery Tiggo (3-3), and Choco Mucho (2-4) all still in the hunt.
Petro Gazz Oliver Almadro, who joined his new team in the off-season, was glad to achieve their modest goal after winning three straight matches.
“That’s our realistic goal — to be in the semifinals first. As we said before, we’ll work hard to reach the realistic goal first, and then let’s take it from there,” said Almadro. “And if the Lord will give us the opportunity to be in the finals, we’ll be happy.”
Setter Djanel Cheng nailed four points, including the timely hits to pull away in the fourth set, and distributed the offensive loads with 25 excellent sets as five of her teammates scored in double figures.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas delivered 15 points off 14 attacks and one ace. Remy Palma nailed three blocks to finish with 13 points. Jonah Sabete chipped in 11 points, 18 digs, and 10 receptions, while MJ Phillips added 10 markers, including two blocks.
After beating Akari in the first two sets, Petro Gazz lost steam in the third set with Dindin Santiago-Manabat giving her team a 22-19 lead before Janine Marciano brought them at set point, 24-22, followed by Krich Macaslang’s set-clinching quick attack.
The Angels caught fire in the fourth set with Cheng’s timely 1-2 plays building a 16-8 lead and stretched their advantage to 21-12 after Phillips’ block on Marcian and never looked back to end their two-hour match.
Akari, already out of semis contention prior to this game, dropped to a 2-5 record.
Erika Raagas was the lone double-digit scorer for the Chargers with 19 points off 16 kills, two blocks, and an ace, as Manabat was limited to nine points, coming off the bench in the last two sets.