Heavy-hitting Lindsey Vander Weide pounded Cignal’s defense with sharp blows that the HD Spikers couldn’t stop, including a barrage of hits in a gripping third set battle that lifted the Petro Gazz Angels to a 25-21, 27-25, 37-35 victory and closer to retaining the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference crown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday.
Vander Weide unloaded six blasts to spike the Angels’ last 11 points in a thrilling duel of power, wits and poise at endgame, including three that saved them the set with her last piercing hit getting stuck between Fatima General’s arms and knees to cap Petro Gazz’s thrilling one-hour, 48-minute victory.
The fiery American finished with 31 attacks for a 34-point output and drew 10 points apiece from Myla Pablo and Aiza Pontillas, who took over with three straight hits when Vander Weide rotated to a back row position that made it 33-32 for the Angels, who stunned the Creamline Cool Smashers in sudden death to rule this conference in 2019 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
But the HD Spikers kept fighting back behind Tai Bierria, Roselyn Doria and Ces Molina, moving at set point last at 35-34 on a rare Vander Weide attack error. But the latter also kept coming back, translating Djanel Cheng’s last two feeds into the marginal points that moved the Angels a win away from keeping the franchise’s lone PVL crown.
The Angels go for a sweep on Tuesday, back at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Though the match ended up in three, the first two sets could’ve gone either way, only the Angels flashed their championship poise in the clutch, out-steadying their counterparts who were in their first finals after finishing third in the Open Conference and Invitational.
“We’re so happy (for the win) but we had many lapses, which we need to address in time for the next game,” said Cheng, who finished with 18 excellent sets and two points.
Bierria, whose endgame brilliance had steered Cignal in key matches in the runup to the finals, came up short this time, checked by the Angels’ superb blocking made up of Remy Palma, MJ Phillips, Cheng and Vander Weide. She finished with 18 points with the rest of the locals failing to hit double figures.
“Siguro yung lesson lang sa amin ay nabitawan namin yung third set set. Mawala yung complacency na kapag naka-dalawang set na kami, may chance na mag-off ng kaunti,” said Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort.