Petro Gazz bucked a first set hiccup before pulling all the stops in the next three to foil their former head coach Rald Ricafort and PLDT in four sets, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18, and move on the verge of making it to the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference Finals, Saturday at the Philsports Arena.
A set away from securing Game One, Jonah heated up in the middle of the fourth frame and put together a streak of four consecutive points. This sparked a 12-3 rally that turned a narrow 10-9 lead into a comfortable 10-point advantage of 22-12.
After Mika Reyes missed an attack, Petro Gazz's lead expanded to 11 at 24-13. However, the High Speed Hitters attempted a last-minute push to extend the match, with Jovy Prado leading a 5-0 run to cut the lead to six. Unfortunately, they eventually made an attacking error that allowed the Angels to claim the win.
"I cannot say we dominated. Talagang ang galing ng PLDT, they’re a really great team. But great teams will just push us forward and I’m always saying it," said Petro Gazz head coach Oliver Almadro.
"Na-push nila kami to our limits, so nakita namin kung ano pa yung pagkukulang, especially nung first set at nung second set na pitpitan talaga. What’s good is these girls are really fighters. They’re humble and they’re fighters, and they really want it," he added.
Sabete had an impressive performance, contributing 18 points to the High Speed Hitters' victory. She scored six crucial points during the team's 12-3 turnaround in the fourth set, with a total of 14 successful attacks, three blocks, and an ace. Sabete also made 11 excellent receptions throughout the match.
Meanwhile, MJ Phillips added 17 points to the Angels' efforts, including 12 attacks, four big blocks, and an ace.
Remy Palma added 14 points to Petro Gazz's scoreboard, with Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Grethcel Soltones also making significant contributions of 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Djanel Cheng played a key role in setting up the Angels' plays, providing 18 excellent sets along with six points. Cienne Cruz also played a critical defensive role, tallying 13 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions throughout the match.
The Angels are now on track to return to the finals after winning the Reinforced Conference title in December on Tuesday.
PLDT, on the other hand, will look to re-do what they did last February 23 when they defeated the same team, 21-25, 31-29, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13, and force a decider.
Prado led the way for the High Speed Hitters with 18 points built on 16 attacks and two aces to go along with 14 excellent digs and 11 excellent receptions.
Mean Mendrez and Reyes each had 11 markers in the loss while Dell Palomata and Michelle Morente finished with nine apiece.