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Petro Gazz back as champs, stifles Cignal

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 on Tuesday.


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 as back-to-back champions of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.


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 One 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.


"All around, this is one of the most amazing conferences I've played in. It feels great to be doing this with this team," she said.


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.


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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