Petro Gazz-PLDT no-tomorrow semifinals clash in PVL


PLDT has the proverbial momentum but Petro Gazz has the experience for a guaranteed furious and long-drawn battle for the other championship berth in the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference.

The High Speed Hitters and the Angles face-off in sudden death at 5 p.m. Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena with odds just about even between two teams seeking a stab at the championship against the winningest club in the fold.

The match will be telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play and Smart Live Stream and on

Creamline swept F2 Logistics in their side of the best-of-three series, pounding out a 25-22, 25-23, 25-16 victory the other night following its 26-24, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15 win in Game One, sending the defending champions to their eighth Finals appearance in the last nine conferences (Open, Reinforced and Invitational).

Petro Gazz, which yielded this crown to Creamline in the last two Open editions, looked headed to forging a third title showdown with the crowd favorites after repulsing PLDT, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18, in their series’ opener.

The Angels, who beat the Cool Smashers to annex their first PVL crown in the 2019 Reinforced Conference, also took the first set of Game Two in empathic fashion but the High Speed Hitters pulled through in a pulsating second set endgame battle then dominated the next two to fashion out a 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 victory and force a sudden death.

PLDT coach Rald Ricafort said it was his wards’ will to win that carried them through the game they couldn’t afford to lose.

“It’s good that our combination clicked in the second set—both sides were exhausted and it’s the will that did the work,” said Ricafort after keeping PLDT’s crack at a breakthrough finals appearance while halting his former team’s march to a third title shot in the league organized by Sports Vision.

While the High Speed Hitters have gained a big psychological edge following that key win, the Angels are expected to recover their rhythm and bearing and come up with the necessary adjustments in a day’s time.

Coach Oliver Almadro surely still has a trick up his sleeve after failing to knock up his wards, who simply lost the fire, character and competitiveness in the last two sets that enabled the High Speed Hitters to turn what had been a tight battle into a runaway triumph.

“We had a strong start. But we waited, everybody waited. Na-drag on kami because we waited,” Almadro rued. ”We just really have to bounce back and manage first our own expectations.”

“But we know what to do, we have adjusted in terms in terms of totality of our character,” Almadro said. “I know my players will bounce back. I know they’ve accepted and acknowledged what happened. I just told them to take the next step again and move forward.”

That means Jonah Sabete, Aiza Pontillas, Grethcel Soltones, MJ Phillips and Remy Palma will have to raise the level of their respective games to measure up with the fired-up combo of Michelle Morente, Jovie Prado, Mean Mendrez and Mika Reyes.

Otherwise, PLDT could be heading to its first-ever PVL finals stint since PayMaya lost to Creamline in the 2018 Reinforced finals.

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