Crown defended: Petro Gazz tops Cignal for back-to-back PVL Reinforced Conference titles

Petro Gazz swept its way back to the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference throne in a more imposing fashion, dispatching Cignal for the second straight time, 25-17, 22-25, 25-12, 25-22 before a big Tuesday crowd at the Philsports Area in Pasig Tuesday night.

Coach Rald Ricafort sued for time as the HD Spikers charged back from seven points down in the fourth to pull within, 22-24, not so much to devise a play but more so of reminding his wards to keep their composure in the face of their rivals’ fiery charge.

They did as Myla Pablo fired a crosscourt hit on the Angels’ second crack on attack to finish off the HD Spikers and crown themselves back-to-back champions of the season-ending conference.

Red and white confetti rained down the court as the Angels whooped it out to celebrate their return to the PVL throne after losing to the Creamline Cool Smashers in this year’s Open Conference and limping to sixth in the recent Invitational.

“Sobrang saya, given the sacrifices by the players. Sulit na sulit,” said Ricafort, who also credited the coaching staff for their successful title-retention drive, including Arnold Laniog, who steered the Angels to their first championship here in 2019.

Notwithstanding their second set foldup, the Angels took command majority of the way, showcasing their firepower which the HD Spikers couldn’t match and banking on their resiliency and cohesion harnessed by their victory here and a couple of runner-up finishes, both in the Open Conference, also in 2019.

Lindsey Vander Weide spiked her conference-long brilliance with a 19-point performance, fewer than her 34-point explosion in their tough 25-21, 27-25, 37-35 Game 1 win last Thursday but more than enough to steer the Angels to a repeat of their feat over the Creamline Cool Smashers.

The heavy-hitting import went on to clinch the Best Import and Finals MVP awards.

Remy Palma also stepped up big, backing Vander Weide with 18 points while Pablo wound up with 17 and MJ Phillips chipped in 12 markers with Djanel Cheng anchoring their victory with 26 excellent sets.

Ces Molina fired 14 points while import Tai Bierria came alive late in the fourth to rally the HD Spikers but her 12-point effort went down the drain. Roselyn Doria added 11 points while Rachel Anne Daquis ended up with six points.

Paat named MVP

Meanwhile, Chery Tiggo’s Mylene Paat bagged the Conference MVP after emerging the third leading scorer after Vander Weide and Creamline’s Yeliz Basa with 196 points on an efficient 34.84 percent. The many-time national team mainstay also took the Best Opposite Spiker plum.

Vander Weide, on the other hand, tallied 251 points to handily win the Best Import trophy with Basa a distant second with 201 points while Alyssa Valdez and Pablo shared the Best Outside Spiker honors.

Phillips and Doria were named Best Middle Blockers while Creamline’s Jia de Guzman nailed another Best Setter trophy, her seventh, and Chery Tiggo’s Buding Duremdes took the Best Libero plum.

But the night belonged to the Angels, who debuted in the PVL with a fifth place finish in the 2018 Reinforced and improved to fourth in the Open Conference. The Angels made it to the top in only their third conference in the 2019 Reinforced.

So overpowering were the Angels that they finished with 59 attack points, 21 more than the HD Spikers and dominate the net in defense, finishing with 12 blocks against Cignal’s eight.

After outdueling the HD Spikers in the opening frame, they looked headed for another romp but wavered as the former countered late and pulled through in the end. But Petro Gazz re-asserted its might in the pivotal third and sustained its attack in the fourth on their way to a repeat championship.


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