PETRO GAZZ and Creamline set out for repeats over PLDT and F2 Logistics, respectively, at the Mall of Asia Arena Tuesday with their eyes focused on forging another title clash for the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino crown.
The Angels and Cool Smashers matched four-set victories in the opener of their respective best-of-three semifinal series over the weekend and both are keen on reasserting their might in an attempt to add another chapter to a rivalry that began to take shape in 2019.
Petro Gazz, then bannered by Myla Pablo, stunned the highly-fancied Creamline in the Reinforced Conference finals but the Cool Smashers got back at the Angels in the Open conference.
They faced off again in this tournament, then the Open, last year with Creamline again prevailing.
But PLDT and F2 Logistics will surely be armed with a different mindset and key adjustments needed to keep them in the hunt for a title breakthrough in the league organized by Sports Vision.
The Angels recovered from a first-set loss before cutting the taller High Speed Hitters down to size for a 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18 victory.
Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro downplayed their big fightback but credited the High Speed Hitters for pushing his wards to outdo themselves.
“PLDT is a really great team. But great teams just push us forward,” said Almadro, whose wards will be taking on the High Speed Hitters at 4 p.m. “We were pushed to our limits, so we saw what mistakes we need to correct.”
“What’s good is that these girls are really fighters. They’re humble and they’re fighters, and they really want it,” added Almadro, who drew double digit outputs from Jonah Sabete (18), MJ Phillips (17), Remy Palma (14), Aiza Pontillas (13) and Grethcel Soltones (10) to underscore their awesome firepower.
But the Angels also shone in net defense, coming through with 14 blocks, six more than the High Speed Hitters. They also produced 23 excellent sets, including 18 from Djanel Cheng, that kept their offense humming in the last three sets.
PLDT coach Rald Ricafort, whose wards stunned the Angels in five sets in the eliminations, also got big numbers from Jovie Prado (18), Mean Mendez and Mika Reyes, who both scored 11 points, and Dell Palomata and Michelle Morente, who matched nine-point outputs.
But they struggled with their first ball in the last two sets, enabling the Angels to regain control on their way to victory.
Like the High Speed Hitters, the Cargo Movers will need a lot of adjusting to do to slow down the Cool Smashers in their 6:30 p.m. match.
Creamline unloaded 69 attack points against F2’s measly 38-hit output partly caused by the continued absence of Pablo, who has not seen action since cramping out against the Choco Mucho Flying Titans last March 7.
The former Angel normed 13 points in seven elims games, delivering a huge 27-point performance in their five-set win over the Cool Smashers.
Despite their edge, Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses has stressed the need for his wards to brace for a big F2 comeback, saying: “Hindi pa tapos yung laban. So, kailangan pa talaga magprepare. Pero happy kami naka-isa na kami sa F2.”
A second win, coupled with Petro Gazz’s repeat, will pave the way for a fourth title faceoff between two of the league’s top draws.
Games are telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play, and SMART Live Stream and on pvl.ph.