Petro Gazz aims to take advantage of the golden opportunity to erase the bitter memory of its past campaigns and end the Premier Volleyball League 2022 season wearing the Reinforced Conference crown.
The Angels are treating Game 2 of the best-of-three finals against Cignal as a no-tomorrow match as they shoot to retain their hold of the throne on Tuesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Opening serve is at 5:30 p.m. after the battle for bronze meeting between bitter rivals Creamline and Chery Tiggo at 2:30 p.m.
After a runner-up finish in the Open Conference and a disappointing fifth in the Invitational tournament, Petro Gazz has no intention of letting this first of two chances of claiming the season-ending title slip away.
“We want to redeem ourselves from the bad performances we had in our previous conferences,” Angels coach Rald Ricafort said.
Petro Gazz’s composure spelled the difference in the series opener last Thursday as it outhustled Cignal, 25-21, 27-25, 37-25, to get within an arm’s reach of a title repeat after ruling the import-laden conference in 2019 before the tournament was shelved for two years because of the pandemic.
American import Lindsey Vander Weide, who was unstoppable in Game 1 after dropping a career-best 34 points, will try to lead the Angels to victory lane.
“We’re really focused right now, we’ve been playing really well so we just have to stay consistent and keep the same energy that we have,” she said.
Helping out Vander Weide is a crack crew of locals led by setter Djanel Cheng, MJ Phillips, Aiza Pontillas, Myla Pablo and Remy Palma.
Pablo shoots for a taste of another title after winning the 2017 Reinforced Conference under Pocari Sweat while Pontillas guns to add a PVL crown to her collection of championships after winning University Athletic Association of the Philippines, Shakey’s V-League and Philippine Superliga titles.
The HD Spikers, however, have a different plan.
With its back against the wall, Cignal is going all out to extend the series and force a rubber match on Thursday.
“We still have a chance to turn this around. We’ll be giving our 110 percent for sure in Game 2,” HD Spikers mentor Shaq delos Santos said.
American reinforcement Tai Bierria vows a different outcome for Cignal in Game 2.
“I definitely have to switch it up. I think I went too safe (in Game 1) on my usual shots that I’ve been working all game,” Bierria said.
“We have to tweak a few things that I know we can be better on, like our blocking, our serve, and service passing.”
Cignal will have to squeeze more out of its locals to help Bierria, who was the only HD Spiker in double figure with 18 points in the last game.
Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria, Riri Meneses, Galudine Trongcoso and skipper Rachel Anne Daquis must step up for Cignal, who finished bronze in the last two conferences of the season.
Meanwhile, the Cool Smashers go for the jugular to salvage a podium finish after their grand slam bid was foiled in the round robin semis.
Creamline beat Chery Tiggo, 25-22, 22-25, 25-5, 25-19, in the series opener last Thursday behind its solid blocking led by Jeanette Panaga, who had a league season-high nine kill blocks out of the 17 scored by the squad.
However, the Crossovers can steal the podium if they win straight sets and the finals series ends in two games.
In a scenario where the battle for third is tied at 1-1 and the championship series is decided in two games, the team with the higher tiebreak will bag bronze.