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Petro Gazz inches closer to semis, clobbers Galeries

Petro Gazz surged closer to clinching a coveted spot in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference, ramming past Galeries Tower, 25-7, 25-21, 25-17, before a vibrant weekend crowd at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna on Saturday.

With their fourth consecutive win in a fiercely contested race for the semifinals, the Angels soared to the top of the standings, edging out the Choco Mucho Flying Titans and the defending champion Creamline Cool Smashers with an impressive 8-2 mark worth 25 points.

Despite the tie in win-loss records, Petro Gazz’s superior point tally secured them the coveted No. 1 spot at this stage of the competition, setting a promising trajectory for their post-elims aspirations in the league organized by Sports Vision.

Choco Mucho and Creamline also tote 8-2 slates and identical 24-point tallies.

With Nxled, another eliminated team, as its last prelims assignment next Saturday, Petro Gazz remains vigilant, wary of potential spoilers.

Despite a formidable start, the Angels faced a spirited challenge from the Highrisers in the second set. However, they regrouped and asserted their dominance while pouncing on their opponents’ miscues and mishits in the stretch.

Petro Gazz stormed to leads of 8-1 and 15-3 in the third, but the two-time Reinforced Conference champions still needed to toughen up and thwart the Highrisers’ effort in the stretch.

Local talent Carlota Hernandez ignited the crowd with clutch plays, saving two match points with power blasts to the delight of the crowd. The Highrisers stayed in the match on a Petro Gazz error, forcing coach Koji Tsuzurabara to sue for time and map out their final assault.

It didn’t matter as Dimdim Pacres served long, handing the 80-minute victory to the Angels, who upended top semis contenders Cool Smashers and the Cignal HD Spikers in their remarkable surge the last two weeks.

“Pinaghahandaan namin bawat laro,” said Jonah Sabete, who emerged the game’s top player with 11 points, including seven on attacks and two blocks and two aces.

Reflecting on the team’s rise, she credited their teamwork, saying: “Medyo maganda ang balanse ng team, may veterans at may mga bata. Pero kailangan pa ding mag-connect ng mga batang players sa mga beterana.”

She also underscored the need for sharper attacks and stronger blocking skills, recognizing areas for further improvement as they progress in the competition.

“Sa mga previous games, medyo shaky ang atake at blocking namin, so kailangan na ayusin pa,” she added.

Brooke Van Sickle led Petro Gazz’s charge with 17 points while Remy Palma, Marian Buitre, Myla Pablo, Aiza Pontillas and Nicole Tiamzon contributed seven, six, five and four points, respectively.

France Ronquilo’s six points proved to be the best score for Galeries Tower, which however drew outputs from 10 others players, including four apiece from Hernandez, Ysa Jimenez, Grace Bombita and Norielle Ipac.

Petro Gazz expectedly dominated all scoring categories, leading 46-32 in spikes, 9-1 in blocks, and 5-0 in aces. Van Sickle also flashed her defensive skills with nine excellent digs and four receptions, while Michelle Morente, formerly a spiker now playing libero contributed nine excellent digs.

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