PVL: PetroGazz outduels Cignal HD in wild thriller, forces decider for Finals berth

The PetroGazz Angels celebrate after scoring against Cignal HD. 

MANILA (UPDATED) – The PetroGazz Angels showed their grit in the end game to outduel the Cignal HD Spikers in five sets, and force a deciding match for the last spot in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Finals.

The Gazz Angels refused to fold and drew clutch hits from several players in a hard-earned 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 18-16 win against the HD Spikers on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

This was Cignal HD’s first loss of the Open Conference after sweeping the elimination round and winning their first two playoff matches.

Myla Pablo played her best game of the tournament so far with 18 points — including the game-winning kill — while Grethcel Soltones and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas each had 14 points. Rem Palma had 11 points for the Gazz Angels.

Cignal HD was one set away from advancing to the Finals after claiming a 2-1 set lead, and shocked the Gazz Angels after clawing back from a 20-23 deficit in Set 4 to snatch a 24-23 lead behind clutch hits from Jerrili Malabanan and Rachel Anne Daquis.

But Pablo scored a clutch hit of her own — much to the dismay of the HD Spikers who felt that her hit went out. A Palma ace put Petro Gazz at set point, and Pablo denied Daquis’ hit at the net to extend the match to a fifth frame.

Neither team could gain momentum in the fifth set, but kills by Angeli Araneta and Roselyn Doria made it 14-12 for the HD Spikers. PetroGazz got back-to-back hits from Maizo-Pontillas and Palma to knot the count, and both teams traded hits from there until setter Chie Saet shocked the Cignal HD defense with a 1-2 play to put her team at match point.

It was Pablo who wrapped up the match, scoring off the Cignal HD blockers to finish the extended set and ensure that there will be a third game in the semifinals series.

“Ayun, i-press lang natin sila, and kumbaga, mage-error din ‘yan, bibigay din ‘yan, mawawalan din ng composure ‘yan. So kapit-kapit lang kami,” PetroGazz coach Jerry Yee said afterward.

“Sabi nga namin ni Ate Chie na parang ‘di pa tapos ‘yung laban, and alam namin na kaya namin makahabol. Tulong-tulong lang kami as a team, and nag-work nga kami noong fifth set,” said Pablo, for her part.

Ces Molina had 19 points for the HD Spikers, to go with 12 digs and 15 receptions. Daquis finished with 17 points and Doria had 13 points, including two blocks. 

Game 3 of the best-of-3 semifinals series is set for Monday, 6:00 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. 

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