PETRO GAZZ displayed a strong new-look line-up for an emphatic 25-11, 25-19, 25-19 win over the Philippine Army in the opening day of Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League on Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Filipino-American sensation Brooke Van Sickle played as good as advertised with 16 points on 14 hits, a block and an ace in her Philippine debut as the Angels needed only 81 minutes to dispatch the Lady Troopers.
Petro Gazz, which also introduced new Japanese coach Koji Tsuzurabara to the local volleyball scene, hardly met a resistance in three straight sets for a quick 1-0 slate in the five-team tilt backed by PLDT Ayala Land, Nuvali, Cignal, One Sports, One Sports+, Mikasa, Senoh, Foton, the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
The former US NCAA stalwart from University of Hawaii, who was hailed as the MVP in the Big West Conference, drew ample support from Nicole Tiamzon, returning Myla Pablo and Kecelyn Galdones with nine, eight and seven points, respectively.
“There were butterflies (in my stomach) going on before the game but my teammates are super supportive and I feel like we did very well,” said the 24-year-old ace, who arrived in the country only two weeks ago.
“We’re getting chemistry as a team together, slowly and slowly. It was a good day for us.”
Save for a close third-set where the Angels had to run away from a slim 17-15 cushion, they dominated the match with all eight other players also barging into the scoring board.
Coach Tsuzubara liked what he saw from his wards’ debut, crediting Brooke in spearheading the way despite the short training for a little over a week since he took over in lieu of Timmy Sto. Tomas.
“Today is my first game and I just said to the players before the game to have fun together,” said the Japanese mentor, who previously called the shots for the U-19 team of Kinh Bac Bac Ninh from Vietnam in the PVL last year.
“Brooke is good. She also had her first game here so she has to understand the atmosphere in Philippine volleyball.”
Up next for Petro Gazz is Cignal on Tuesday, which also souped up its camp with the acquisition of Dawn Macandili and Jov Fernandez. Cignal was playing Chery Tiggo, led by new captain Aby Maraño, as of press time in the second game of the PNVF Champions League opener.
Meanwhile, Nerissa Bautista was the only bright spot last year with 10 points for the Philippine Army in its volleyball return since skipping the PVL last year.
NCAA champion and PNVF Challenge Cup champion College of St. Benilde, which will debut Monday against the Philippine Army, is the other team in the women’s division of the tourney that will be aired live on One Sports and One Sports+ and livestreamed on Pilipinas Live and on delayed basis on Cignal.