PVL: Petro Gazz eyes breakthrough in Open Conference

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2022 03:46 PM

The triumphant Petro Gazz Angels. PVL Media.
The triumphant Petro Gazz Angels. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- After winning a second consecutive championship in the Reinforced Conference, the Petro Gazz Angels are optimistic that they can soon break through in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

The Gazz Angels added the 2022 Reinforced Conference trophy to their collection after completing a two-game sweep of Cignal HD on Tuesday night at the PhilSports Arena.

It was the conclusion of a long-awaited title defense for Petro Gazz: they won their first crown in 2019 but the league didn't hold an import-laced tournament for the next two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Knowing 'yung sacrifices na ginawa namin, sulit naman 'yung pagkakakuha ng championship," said Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort, who steered his team to the championship in just his second conference in charge. 

In 2019, they were powered by Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson, and this time around it was American Lindsey Vander Weide who earned Finals MVP honors in their title triumph.

But Ricafort also got plenty of contributions from his locals, notably veterans such as Myla Pablo and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas. The tandem of MJ Phillips and Remy Palma was a force at the net, and playmaker Djanel Cheng was the team's unsung hero throughout the conference.

With a loaded core of locals, Ricafort believes it's a matter of time before they can also reach the top of the mountain in the Open Conference.

"Siguro i-work on pa rin talaga 'yung system na binibigay doon sa locals. Mabigat talaga 'yung laban sa All-Filipino, given sa ibang teams na masyadong, parang All-Star na talaga eh," he said, referring to teams such as Creamline and F2 Logistics.

"Kumbaga, kaunting trabaho pa talaga siguro, and siguro soon makakasungkit naman kami, pati sa all-Filipino," he added.

The Gazz Angels were runners-up in the 2022 Open Conference, getting swept by Creamline in the finals. They missed the semifinals of the mid-season Invitational Conference, before going all the way in the Reinforced. 

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