By NIKOLE JAVIER
Petro Gazz worked on its game plan to near-perfection and brought Creamline down to its knees via a gritty 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 26-24 win to inch closer to winning the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference Sunday, March 26, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Showing great composure, the Angels never wavered despite dropping the second set, coming through with their own thunderous spikes in their mano-a-mano with the Cool Smashers before a large roaring crowd.
Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almandro credited their win to how his wards followed their game plan to the latter.
“Yung gameplan,” Almadro told Grethcel Soltones in a frantic huddle after the Cool Smashers tied the count at 22 in the first set which Petro Gazz practically controlled.
He was referring to Creamline’s rotation and the former three-time NCAA MVP from San Sebastian took the cue at resumption and fired a vicious kill on Zone 1 to key the Angels’ decisive 3-hit finishing kick capped by Jonas Sabete’s off-the-block kill against Pangs Panaga.
With the win, the Angels snapped their 14-game losing streak to the Cool Smashers dating back to the Game Three of the finals in July 2019 to move on the cusp of their first All-Filipino title.
Jonah Sabete dropped 18 points off 16 attacks and two blocks laced with 15 excellent receptions, while Aiza Maizo Pontillas added 15.
Grethcel Soltones and MJ Phillips also had 14 points each for Petro Gazz to match Creamline’s all-around team effort.
In the fourth set, the Angels quickly raced to an early 9-4 advantage before stepping on the gas and turning it into a 18-13 cushion via a 3-0 run.
Just as Petro Gazz thought it would win pulling away, Creamline would put up a fightback and save four match points to tie the game at 24-all.
However, Phillips would lift the Angels with a quick attack before their bench called a successful challenge on a Jia De Guzman net touch which ultimately ended the match.
“They showed great character towards the ending. Kailangan lang mag-prepare and [magkaroon] ng tamang mindset,” added Almadro.
Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao paced the Cool Smashers with 18 points each, while Tots Carlos and Ced Domingo chipped in 17 and 14, respectively, in the losing effort.