July 30, 2022

Petro Gazz yanks out Choco Mucho, sends Army to the semis

Petro Gazz dragged Choco Mucho out of the semis with a shock 28-26, 25-21, 25-16 victory on Saturday evening in a wacky ending to a Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference elims that was nothing but wildly unpredictable.

The also-ran Angels sealed the Flying Titans' fate after winning the second set, shoving the Army Lady Troopers instead to the next round despite dropping a 20-25, 22-25, 16-25 setback to the elims topnotcher Creamline Cool Smashers earlier.

Creamline topped the elims with a 5-1 card with Cignal HD and PLDT finishing joint second at 4-2 and Army snaring the last semis berth with a 3-3 slate.

Choco Mucho had hoped to hurdle Petro Gazz in 3 or four sets to match Army's card and clinch the last semis seat with a better tiebreak score. But the Angels, the 2019 Reinforced Conference champions, stood in their way and dished out a solid game sorely missing in their first four matches which they all dropped.

But against the Flying Titans, they played with sheer pride as MJ Phillips spearheaded their attack that had the Angels surviving two sets points in the opening frame, only to blow their own crack at 26-25 on a Remy Palma service miscue.

But Aiza Pontillas drilled in a power hit and Kat Tolentino stepped on the line after launching her own bid from the back row, resulting to an illegal attack and a 1-0 set lead for the Angels to the chagrin of the Flying Titans' screaming fans at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Angels built up on that win and controlled the early going of the second set at 13-8 and 17-11 before sitting on a 23-19 cushion courtesy of another Tolentino illegal hit.

Bea de Leon banged in a quick attack on her second try, ending a long furious rally that kept Choco Mucho in the hunt, 20-23. But Phillips came away with a kill off Chie Saet's brilliant one-hand set then Nicole Tiamzon countered Des Cheng's hit to quash the Flying Titans' semis hopes while capping their campaign with back-to-back victories.
It was a disappointing exit for Choco Mucho, which revived its semis hopes with a tough five-set win over PLDT last Thursday. But the pressure to deliver took its toll on the young but talented Flying Titans as the Angels, who snapped their four-game skid with a four-set win over the HD Spikers last Tuesday, simply flashed their veteran smarts and spunk all throughout their three-set duel.

The semis starts Tuesday with a single match pitting PLDT and Army at 4 p.m., also at the San Juan venue, with Creamline and Cignal HD resuming their title drive against Army and PLDT, respectively, on Thursday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Guest teams Kobe Shinwa from Japan and KingWhale from Taiwan make their debut against each other next Monday at the SM MOA Arena with the top two teams after another single round robin semis disputing the crown in a winner-take-all match.