Angels survive Foxies to stay in semis hunt; HD Spikers win

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PETRO GAZZ survived a game Farm Fresh side and an erratic second set and fashioned out a 25-21, 31-29, 25-17 victory to stay on track for the semifinals in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Tuesday.

Cignal also essayed a similar straight-set win over Foton in the next match of a busy four-game schedule—25-10, 25-16, 25-22—to gain a share of second at 2-1 won-lost and tighten up the semifinals race in Pool B.

The HD Spikers imposed their will early behind Ces Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Roselyn Doria’s sustained assaults then weathered the Tornadoes’ onslaught in the third set to annex the 72-minute triumph and rebound from a four-set loss to the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers after dispatching the Angels, also in four, in the conference’s inaugurals last June 27.

“I’m very thankful to the Lord for guiding us for the entire game and the opportunity to train after dropping our last game. So it’s a good sign we were able to recover and win,” said Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos, who drew 16 points Molina, 14 hits from Gonzaga and 10 points from Doria.

“We really needed this win, actually we should win all our games,” said Molina, citing the eliminations’ taut format, particularly in the six-team Group B of the two-division conference. Group A is made up for five squads.

Shaya Adorador posted a 13-hit showing while almost single-handedly keeping the Tornadoes in the fight in the third but failed to draw solid backup from the rest of the Tornadoes, who joined the Foxies in the sidelines with a third straight loss.

Mary Rhose Dapol scored six points while former playmaker Jasmine Nabor finished with five hits as an open spiker.

The HD Spikers used their power to set the tone for the rout, producing 56 spikes, 30 more than the Tornadoes’ combined output that all but settled the outcome of the contest.

It was the Angels’ second straight victory following a big bounce-back from a loss to the Cignal HD Spikers with a four-set win over the Foton Tornadoes, assuring themselves of a share of second place with Group B leaders Choco Mucho and F2 Logistics, both toting 2-0 cards.

While Petro Gazz dominated all the scoring and non-scoring skills, the Angels were dragged into a close, frenzied battle in the first two sets due to their errant plays, enabling the young Foxies to take command late in the second frame before succumbing to Petro Gazz’s superb blocking and their own attack error in the end.

“They lost their timing because of their willingness and eagerness to make a point—and win—right away,” said Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro, ruing his wards’ 21 glaring errors in the first two sets. “But I’m happy how they performed overall.”

Grethcel Soltones and Aiza Pontillas topscored for Petro Gazz with 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Nicole Tiamzon backed them up with eight markers and Kecelyn Galdones stepped up in the absence of middle MJ Phillips, who left for the Korean league, and added six points, matching Remy Palma’s output.

The Angels, runners-up to the Creamline Cool Smashers in the recent All-Filipino Conference, unloaded 53 attack points, nearly doubling the Foxies’ 29-point effort, came through with seven blocks, two more than their rivals, and produced five aces against the latter’s three.

But they yielded 30 points off their miscues against the Foxies’ 16 although they put their act together to dominate the third and complete the straight-set win in one-hour and 34 minutes in the first of four matches set at resumption of the single-round elims phase.

With a third straight 0-3 loss, Farm Fresh bowed out of the semis race in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by BingoPlus, ArenaPlus, Mikasa, SMART, Rebisco, Kumu, Asics and SportRadar.

The St. Benilde-reinforced Foxies looked headed to scoring a breakthrough set win when they took a couple of four-point leads in the second frame, the last at 19-15. And though they blew it in the face of the Angels’ strong fightback, the Foxies rebounded and saved three set points before wresting a 29-28 lead.

But Petro Gazz defense came to fore in the clutch, foiling Kate Santiago twice to regain control and the Angels clinched the victory on a Santiago attack that sailed long.

“There’s a lot to improve on,” Soltones said. “We struggled in the first 2 sets because of our errors.”

Gayle Pascual showed the way for Farm Fresh with 11 points while Santiago finished with seven hits and Michelle Gamit, Zamantha Nolasco, Wielyn Estoque, Daniela Ildefonso and Sophis Mondonedo combined for 16 points.

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