(Batangas City Sports Center)
4 p.m. — Petro Gazz vs Gerflor
6 p.m. — Creamline vs Cignal
Defending champion Creamline and Cignal battle for a second straight win and a share of the lead as the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference action goes out of town today at the Batangas City Sports Center.
Both squads had a great opening day outing last Sunday but only one team after the 6 p.m. main game will remain unscathed to join idle Chery Tiggo on top of the standings.
Meanwhile, Petro Gazz is also aiming for a follow-up to its season-ending conference debut victory when it takes on Gerflor at 4 p.m.
But the highlight of the league’s first provincial stop will be on the crowd-darling Cool Smashers match against a formidable HD Spikers side.
Relying on its depth of talent, the undermanned Creamline defeated sister team Choco Mucho, 25-18, 25-16, 24-26,
25-21, to open its title-retention bid sans sidelined key players and the absence of prized setter Jia Morado-de Guzman.
Cool Smashers head coach Sherwin Meneses had to tweak his rotation this conference with Kyle Negrito taking the main role as playmaker for the now Japan-based De Guzman.
Starting libero Kyla Atienza remains doubtful due to an injury she sustained last conference while main middle blocker 2022 Invitational Conference Finals Most Valuable Player Ced Domingo is set to leave for a stint abroad. Domingo sat out Creamline’s first game after undergoing a tooth extraction.
“We still have a lot to work on because we have to address the lapses in our system,” Meneses said.
But despite the changes in rotation, the Cool Smashers remain a very dangerous team as it paved the way for other players to step up.
Bernadeth Pons and Michele Gumabao did most of the damage last match as they dropped 22 and 20 points, respectively.
Well-rested Batangas native Alyssa Valdez and Tots Carlos, who saw limited minutes in the previous game, are expected to log in more playing time this time with old reliables Jema Galanza, Jeanette Panaga and Risa Sato.
Cignal, on the other hand, is dealing with similar manpower issues as veterans Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga’s availability remains up in the air.
Daquis is in the USA for a coaching clinic while Gonzaga has yet to settle her clearance to play from the Philippine Army.
Despite the absence of the ‘GonzaQuis’ duo, the HD Spikers downed their sister team PLDT, 25-16, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20, with Ces Molina leading the charge.
“Hopefully, we can sustain this momentum in our next game,” Molina, who dropped 20 points, said.
Cignal will also rely on youngblood Vanie Gandler, who is also stepping up her game since joining the club last conference, Rose Doria, Glaudine Trongcoso, Toni Basas, Jacqueline Acuna and Riri Meneses to pull off a big win.
The Angels, meanwhile, are favored to get past the Defenders, who are yet to capture the elusive win since coming into the league in the previous tournament.