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Petro Gazz stuns Cignal to capture PNVF Champions League crown

Petro Gazz saved its best for last, stunning the erstwhile unbeaten Cignal with a 25-19, 27-25, 25-22 finale win to claim the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League women’s title on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Fil-American ace Brooke Van Sickle and local stalwart Jonah Sabete spearheaded the barrage as the Angels denied the HD Spikers, who had a near-perfect run until the finale.

Van Sickle, the former Big West Conference MVP in the US NCAA, erupted for 20 points on 18 attacks and two blocks, announcing a roaring introduction to Philippine volleyball through the PNVF’s first tilt backed by PLDT, Ayala Land, Nuvali, Cignal, One Sports, One Sports+, Mikasa, Senoh, Foton, the Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Sports Commission.

The University of Hawaii standout was named the Champions League Best Open Hitter and MVP as Petro Gazz also gifted new head coach Koji Tsuzurabara from Japan a sweet title in his local league debut.

Jonah Sabete, the Second Best Open Hitter, complemented Van Sickle with 18 points while Second Best Middle Blocker Remy Palma and Kecelyn Galdones threw in seven points apiece.

“Thank you so much. Now, my players understand my volleyball a little bit. We still need all-around practice but this time, they gave me the best performance. I just told them before the game, you are the challengers. My team was the challenger,” said Tsuzubara.

“I couldn’t be more grateful enough for my teammates and the coaching staff. They made it happen,” added Brooke, who delivered the championship-winning hit amidst a fiery comeback by Cignal.

As a challenger to Cignal’s almost-but-not-quite flawless campaign, Petro Gazz indeed embraced it and owned the big stage highlighted by a thrilling 27-25 win in the second set courtesy of crucial hits by Sabete and Palma.

That pretty much bumped their rivals out of sync as Van Sickle put on the finishing touches to complete the Angels’ revenge bid on tormentors Crossovers and HD Spikers, who beat them in the prelims, with big wins in the semifinals and finals, respectively.

Ces Molina had 13 points as the lone bright spot for Cignal in a shocking runner-up finish after sweeping its way to the finals, including a five-setter victory against St. Benilde in the Final Four.

Meanwhile, Aby Maraño (First Middle Blocker) from Chery Tiggo and Gayle Pascual (Best Opposite) of St. Benilde as well as Gel Cayuna (Best Setter) and Dawn Macandili (Best Libero) of Cignal joined Van Sickle, Sabete, and Palma in the all-tournament team.

Earlier, Mylene Paat showed the way with 11 points on eight hits and three blocks as Chery Tiggo vented its ire on College of St. Benilde with a masterful 25-20, 25-13, 25-13, win to capture the bronze medal.

Team captain Maraño and Ara Galang, former pillars of the disbanded F2 Logistics, chipped in 10 points each to backstop Paat in Chery Tiggo’s easy win after bowing to Petro Gazz in straight sets in the semifinals.

“Maganda ‘yung experience kasama sila Ara at Tyang. It’s a great start para sa amin,” said coach Kungfu Reyes, whose wards came off a 21-25, 19-25, 14-25 defeat to the Angels.

Gayle Pascual, after an 18-point output in a tough 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 10-15 loss to Cignal, had seven points to lead the charges of coach Jerry Yee, who gave all of their four professional counterparts a run for their own money in all slim defeats.

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