PVL: Petro Gazz eliminates PLDT to arrange Finals showdown vs Creamline anew
MANILA, Philippines — Petro Gazz will battle Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League Finals for the fourth time after ousting PLDT in the All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Angels showed their killer instinct in a do-or-die semifinal Game 3, beating the High Speed Hitters in straight sets, 25-17, 25-23, 25-15, to set up a best-of-three championship series against the Cool Smashers starting Sunday.
Creamline earlier booked a Finals berth after sweeping F2 Logistics.
Petro Gazz, which settled for a runner-up finish in last year’s first conference, tries to exact revenge against the defending champion Creamline in Game 1 over the weekend at 6:30 p.m. at the same venue in Pasay City.
MJ Phillips stepped up when it mattered most for the Angels with 15 points built on 11 attacks and four blocks to rekindle their rivalry with the Cool Smashers, who swept them in two games in the Finals last season.
“I feel amazing that we’re back in it. Just like coach said starting yesterday in practice, we felt everyone wanting to change what happened in Game 2 we’re not gonna let that happen again and we just left it all out there,” Phillips said. “Mindset was just no ball drop, we’re just gonna go for every ball. I’m very proud of this team.”
Jonah Sabete also stepped up with 13 points. Grethcel Soltones added 12 points, 11 digs, and 11 excellent receptions. Setter Djanel Cheng dished out 17 excellent sets on top of four points, as Remy Palma and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas contributed nine and seven markers, respectively.
Coach Oliver Almadro will be making his first PVL Finals as his Angels eye their maiden All-Filipino crown in their third try.
“I just challenge them. We always challenge these players and they accepted the challenge and they acknowledged that they can do it. Yesterday, I can see the fierceness in their eyes, I can see that they really want to bounce back,” said Almadro after bouncing back from a Game 2 loss. “I told them during the huddle earlier, rise mentality, rise attitude. I’m happy with these two [Jonah and MJ], they struggled [last game]. But I’m happy that they really bounced back. It shows really the maturity and the character that these girls, these Angels have, and they’re really an Angel to me.”
Petro Gazz only faced resistance in the second set as it squandered a 23-19 lead after committing a couple of errors and Dell Palomata and Jovy Prado trimmed the deficit to one, 23-22.
But Phillips put things back into order after nailing back-to-back quick attacks to lift Petro Gazz to the verge of victory.
Palma and Soltones conspired in the third set to pull away with a 17-7 lead. Substitute spiker Dzi Gervacio joined the party, scoring off a floating ball to tally the biggest margin, 11 points, 20-9, and never looked back.
PLDT coach Rald Ricafort, who left Petro Gazz after winning the Reinforced Conference last December, was eliminated by his former team in a rubber match.
The High Speed Hitters will be relegated in the battle for bronze series against the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in another best-of-three series also on Sunday.
Prado and Palomata led PLDT with 10 points each, while wing spikers Mich Morente and Mean Mendrez were limited to six and four markers, respectively. Libero Kath Arado had 32 digs in a loss.
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