Big crowd turn out in Iloilo as Angels oust Crossovers, tow PLDT to semis

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PETRO GAZZ still went for the win to formalize its semifinals stint while slamming the door shut on Chery Tiggo with a tough 25-21, 28-26, 25-21 victory before a wildly cheering crowd at the San Agustin Gymnasium in Iloilo City on Tuesday.

Close to 7,000 fans whooped it up on every converted kill, furious exchanges of hits, spectacular digs and saves, and power tips but saved the biggest roar when MJ Phillips delivered the clincher on a quick attack for the Angels.

The win capped the Angels’ domination of the Crossovers who came into the league’s first out-of-town match in the season needing no less than a three-set victory to stay in the semifinals race.

But the Angels were in no mood to yield any, coming through with a strong finishing kick in the opening frame, surviving their beleaguered rivals’ frantic rally in the next then foiling another make-or-break bid by the Crossovers in the third.

“It’s really hard going out-of-town with an important match,” Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro said. “Both teams really needed this win.

Almadro said the rabid crowd gave allowed both sides to entertain with their skills in the sport.

“We’re happy to be an instrument to showcase their talents, I told the players ‘give your heart, give your soul, give your strength’ for the fans.”

“But what’s important is we thank the Lord for the win, no injuries on both teams, and I really thank these Angels for stepping up, especially in the most crucial time,” he added.

Petro Gazz, runner-up to Creamline in this tournament last season, then the Open Conference, last year, closed out its eliminations campaign with a 6-2 record.

The Angels joined the defending champion (6-1) and idle F2 Logistics (6-2) in the semifinals while giving PLDT a free ride to the playoffs of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

With a 5-2 card, the High Speed Hitters try to match the Angels and the Cargo Movers cards against the Choco Mucho Flying Titans at the close of the eliminations back at the PhilSports Arena on Thursday.

In case of ties, the rankings will be determined through the point and set ratio system.

A PLDT loss, however, will set up the Cool Smashers-High Speed Hitters and Angels-Cargo Movers duels in the next phase, both best-of-three with the winners disputing the championship.

Grethcel Soltones continued to dish out top form heading to the crucial phase, coming away with 14 points while Aiza Pontillas put in a 13-point outing to the delight of her fellow Ilonggas. Palma put in a 12-hit game while Philipps and Jonah Sabete added 10 and seven points, respectively.

Cza Carandang and Mylene Paat scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Crossovers, who also drew eight points from EJ Laure, and four markers from Shaya Adorador, while Jaycel delos Reyes stepped up to fire seven points.

Chery Tiggo, which wound up with a 4-4 slate, actually edged Petro Gazz in spikes, 47-46, but the Angels scored eight kill blocks, three more than the Crossovers, and pounced on the latter’s sloppy service reception and made six aces, while yielding two of their own.

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