Petro Gazz libero Cienne Cruz played a pivotal role in the Angels’ title conquest in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference.
But in order to hit her stride in the latter stages of the competition, Cienne, the twin sister of Petro Gazz team manager Camille Cruz and younger sister of Miss Everything Cha Cruz-Behag, had to overcome a distressing week midway through the season.
It was one that got her in shambles but eventually steeled her resolve to further help her team win a championship.
“To be honest, noong nangyari yung error na yan, sobrang unforgettable talaga sa akin. Kasi nadala lang ng pressure sa loob ng court,” the 24-year-old Cruz recounted, pertaining to a costly error in a crucial juncture in Petro Gazz’s second-round defeat to the Cool Smashers.
“During that week kasi, may pinagdadaanan rin ako personally – family issue about my mom.”
Cruz drew strength and motivation from a burning desire to bounce back amidst the adversities.
“After that, as in tinext ko pa si coach [Arnold Laniog] na nag-sorry ako na wala ako sa sarili,” the product of the De La Salle volleyball program continued.
“So, after noon, during those practices, bumalik lang talaga ako sa basic namin na inayos ko yung mindset.”
The Angels were rolling once again as the anchor of their floor defense picked herself up.
Petro Gazz brushed aside the heart-wrenching defeat to Creamline and steamrolled through the competition. Having perched atop the standings at the end of the elimination round, the Angels continued their dominance in semifinals, where they fended off PacificTown-Army and barged into their first finals appearance.
In an offensively-charged title bout against Creamline, the light-footed libero protected the floor with sheer determination against the likes of Alyssa Valdez and Kuttika Kaewpin, whose punch-packing hits have been feared by many.
Though in a losing cause in Game One, Cruz delivered a 16-dig, 16-reception double-double performance. As the team established a footing in Game Two, the defensive specialist notched another fine defensive output, tallying 15 digs and 13 receptions. She then had 15 digs to her name in the winner-take-all bout.
After having a won the Reinforced title, Cruz admitted that they have “no time to relax” especially since they’ll be in action on August in the Open Conference without their prized-imports Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson.
But the Best Libero of last year’s Open Conference believes that the valuable experiences she and the rest of the locals have soaked in this season would pay dividends in the all-Filipino tournament.
“I guess yung experience din na nakuha namin this conference, we’ll bring it to the next conference especially yung determination ng mga local players and yung experience,” the 5-foot-5 defensive specialist said.
“Pagpapaguran talaga namin, we’ll work hard for that.”