MANILA, Philippines -- Djanel Cheng's second championship in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) was three years in the making, but the wait was worth it for the Petro Gazz playmaker.
Cheng was a crucial contributor in the Gazz Angels' triumph in the 2022 PVL Reinforced Conference, where they toppled Cignal HD in two games to retain the crown that they won in 2019.
It was a special achievement for Cheng, one of four holdovers from the squad that first triumphed three years ago along with Chie Saet, Jonah Sabete, and Cienne Cruz.
"Masaya kasi parang ano eh, dito lang ako sa team na 'to magkaka-champion," said Cheng.
"I mean, ang dami ko ng lipat, tapos bumabalik at bumabalik pa rin talaga dito. So, isa sa happy place ko 'tong team," she added.
Cheng suited up for Sta. Lucia in 2020, playing for the Lady Realtors in the 2021 Open Conference. She made her return to the Gazz Angels in January 2022, after Sta. Lucia took a leave of absence from the league.
She immediately helped the Gazz Angels to a runner-up finish in the 2022 Open Conference, but they faltered in the Invitational where they missed the semis.
The Reinforced Conference was a different story, as Cheng helped maximize the presence of prolific import Lindsey Vander Weide en route to the championship. Afterward, she gave full credit to their team captain, the veteran setter Saet, for helping her with her playmaking duties.
"Kasama ko sa team si Ate Chie. So kung ano 'yung nakikita niya sa labas na hindi ko nakikita, nasasabi niya sa akin, kaya naa-adjust-an namin ng mabilis," said Cheng.
That Cheng readily stepped up to take the reins of Petro Gazz's offense was a source of pride for their head coach, Rald Ricafort, who wanted the setter to regain her confidence after a difficult campaign in the Invitational.
"Kay Cheng, personally 'yung goal ko na bigyan siya ng chance ulit dito sa ganitong conference, dahil kailangan namin maging malalaki lahat," he explained. "Kahit hindi siya ganoong nagamit last conference, alam namin na ready pa rin siya, lalo dito sa conference na 'to."
"So happy kami na 'yung binigay sa kanya na break, talagang nagawa niya 'yung role niya," he added.