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Fired-up Angels seek semis slot

Petro Gazz faces another stern test in chase of the first semifinal seat in Pool B, taking on a Choco Mucho side keen on bouncing back and enhancing its own drive in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference today at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

That guarantees another slam-bang encounter at 6:30 p.m. with the result either clearing up or throwing the semis race into a wild finish Tuesday.

After yielding a four-set loss to the Cignal HD Spikers in the 27 June inaugurals of the mid-season conference, the Angels racked up three straight victories, including a gripping 20-25, 25-22, 25-12, 33-35, 15-9 escape over fellow semis contender and erstwhile unbeaten F2 Logistics Cargo Movers last Thursday.

With the HD Spikers dispatching the Farm Fresh Foxies in three, Petro Gazz, F2 Logistics and Cignal found themselves locked at 3-1 with Choco Mucho making it a four-way battle for the two berths with a 2-1 slate.

A victory by the Angels, however, will net them a spot in the next phase, a carry-over round, making the encounter so crucial for both teams.

But a reversal will put Choco Mucho in a tie instead with the idle F2 Logistics and Cignal, jeopardizing the Angels’ semis bid in the mid-season conference.

Despite getting stalled by the Angels, the Cargo Movers are tipped to advance with the winless Foton Tornadoes being their last opponent although the latter will be out to play the spoiler’s role at the close of the tight single-round eliminations on Tuesday.

Ties will be resolved via the league’s tiebreak system (set ratio).

Meanwhile, PLDT expects to rebound from a shutout loss to Pool A semifinalist Creamline (3-0) as it tangles with winless Gerflor at 12 noon while the Cool Smashers go for a sweep against Akari at 4 p.m.

Foton and Farm Fresh kick off hostilities at 9:30 a.m. in a duel of ousted teams.

But focus will be on the Petro Gazz-Choco Mucho face-off with Grethcel Soltones and Sisi Rondina bracing for a fiery exchange of attacks and the rest gearing up for another long protracted, grueling duel.

Soltones, enjoying top form, came away with a career-best 31-point explosion, including key hits in the decider to anchor the Angels’ triumph over the Cargo Movers in a match marred by a couple of long delays due to successive, controversial challenges in the last two sets.

But Rondina is likewise playing on a zone. Despite their loss to F2 Logistics, the former UST hitter’s energy and leadership have inspired the rest and made the Flying Titans a clear semis contender.

With the teams’ main players likely to cancel out their outputs, the supporting cast roles will be vital with Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro to lean on veteran campaigners Aiza Pontillas, Remy Palma, Jonah Sabete and Nicole Tiamzon and two ace playmakers in Djanel Cheng and Chie Saet.


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