Petro Gazz finally beats Creamline, closes in on PVL title
MANILA, Philippines—Petro Gazz stunned defending champion Creamline, taking Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals series, 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 26-24, on Sunday to move on the cusp of the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference crown at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Angels picked the perfect time to end a 14-game losing skid against the Cool Smashers as they pounced on the Alyssa Valdez-less squad, nearing its first-ever All-Filipino crown after three tries.
Jonah Sabete led the balanced attack of the Angels to give Petro Gazz its first win over Creamline, which was back in the 2019 Reinforced Conference Finals Game 3.
Sabete delivered 18 points, 15 receptions, and 10 digs. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas also shone with 15 points, including two blocks. Grethcel Soltones and MJ Phillips added 14 points each, as setter Djanel Cheng provided brilliant plays with 20 excellent sets on top of five markers.
The Angels reached match point in the fourth off Michele Gumabao’s service error, 24-21, but the Cool Smashers saved three points with Tots Carlos drilling a cross-court attack and Jema Galanza nailing back-to-back kills to force a deuce, 24-all.
Phillips stopped the bleeding with a quick attack to regain the match point advantage, 25-24.
During the final moments of the game, coach Oliver Almadro’s called for a video challenge in the middle of the rally, asking for a net touch. The challenge was successful as Jia De Guzman’s block attempt touched the net, handing the Game 1 win to Petro Gazz.
“I called it right away. Wala namang mawawala. Then I trusted the Lord na lang na talagang net. Yun yung vision, I know my player worked hard for that attack and hindi ako papayag na hindi yun puntos kasi pinaghirapan niya yun,” said Almadro, who ran around the court to celebrate his challenge successful and Game 1 win.
“But, I’m happy with what my players did. They are composed. They showed character towards the endgame, and they really helped each other and trusted each other. So, we will have to manage it. We will taper the hype,” he added.
The Angels try to clinch the crown in Game 2 on Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., at the same venue.
“We’re not thinking about the one win away. We just have to do our job, we just have to prepare, and we have to manage ourselves not to be overwhelmed. Not too frustrated, not too overwhelmed. We have to be consistent,” said Almadro. “We will breathe properly because game one is over but the series is not done.”
Creamline lost in Finals Game 1 for the first time since the 2019 Reinforced, where it lost to the same team, Petro Gazz, in three games.
Galanza and Gumabao led the Cool Smashers with 18 points each as the latter also contributed 15 digs and seven excellent receptions, while Carlos chipped in 17 points and 13 receptions.
Celine Domingo had 14 points including three blocks, while De Guzman dished out 21 excellent sets and fired three service aces.