PVL: Despite loss to PetroGazz, Cignal still advances to finals

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2022 05:00 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2022 05:58 PM

Petro Gazz remains alive in the race for a Finals berth in the PVL Reinforced Conference. PVL Media.
Petro Gazz remains alive in the race for a Finals berth in the PVL Reinforced Conference. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Petro Gazz recovered from a meltdown in the third set to defeat Cignal HD in the semifinals of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena.

The Gazz Angels authored a ​​25-14, 25-21, 25-27, 25-19 triumph that hiked their record to 2-1 in the semifinals, keeping them in the hunt for a place in the championship series.

Their loss dropped the HD Spikers to 2-1, but their stunning come-from-behind win in Set 3 assured them of a spot in the best-of-3 finals by virtue of a superior set ratio. Cignal HD saved three match points in the frame, and their triumph set off a celebration from their bench.

END of SET 3: Cignal HD 27, PetroGazz 25. twitter.com/camillenaredo

Petro Gazz will now have to wait for the result of the game between Creamline and Chery Tiggo to determine if they will advance to the finals. The Gazz Angels are hoping for a loss by the Cool Smashers to seal their place in the championship.

"We'll take it na rin, basta nanalo kami. Sayang, pero 'yung win naman 'yung habol talaga," Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort said after the game.

Lindsey Vander Weide paced Petro Gazz with 30 points, all on kills, while MJ Phillips scored seven of her 13 points on blocks. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas added 10 points.

A straight sets win would have secured a finals berth for Petro Gazz, and they appeared headed for that result after taking the first two frames then surging to a 24-21 lead in the third off a Vander Weide hit.

But American import Tai Bierria refused to let the HD Spikers lose. Cignal HD saved a match point after a Petro Gazz error, then Bierria scored three straight hits to push her team ahead, 25-24. Phillips saved a set point with a quick hit, but Bierria again came through with a clutch offspeed shot to give the HD Spikers a second set point, 26-25.

A quick kill by Ria Meneses wrapped up the third set for Cignal HD, and their reserves stormed the court to celebrate.

"Siguro, between sa amin, mas naging clutch lang 'yung mga counter-attacks nila, and natagalan lang talaga kami mag-convert sa All-Filipino sa harap," said Ricafort, as Vander Weide was in the back row during the crucial stretch and neither Maizo-Pontillas nor Pablo could put the ball away.

The Gazz Angels recovered in the fourth set, with Vander Weide anchoring a 6-0 run that turned a 14-15 deficit into a 20-15 advantage. They reached match point on a Maizo-Pontillas kill, 24-19, and this time Petro Gazz made sure that there would be no collapse as Vander Weide ended the match in the very next rally.

Bierria again came off the bench to score 15 points for the HD Spikers. Meneses had eight points, while Roselyn Doria and Ces Molina each scored seven points.

This is the first finals appearance for the HD Spikers since joining the PVL in 2020. They are coming off back-to-back third place finishes in the Open and Invitational Conferences.