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Tiebreaker Times


Djanel Cheng grateful to Chie Saet for guiding her in championship run

Djanel Cheng spent the past year riding the bench.

During the 2021 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference, the 28-year-old playmaker played back up to veteran setter Rubie De Leon during their time together in Sta. Lucia.

When the Lady Realtors decided to take a leave of absence come the 2022 PVL season, Cheng landed right back to the team she helped build – Petro Gazz.

However, she found herself in another reserve role as the Angels decided to stick with another seasoned playmaker in Chie Saet, who led the team to a bronze finish in the Ilocos Norte bubble and eventually helped them reach the finals of the 2022 Open Conference.

Opportunity finally smiled on the former College of St. Benilde standout when assistant coach Rald Ricafort finally took over the head coaching job in the season-ending Reinforced Conference.

Ricafort, who handled the Angels’ last few games in the Invitationals, decided to switch things up and give Cheng a shot.

And well, the move definitely did wonders for Petro Gazz as the 5-foot-7 setter formed a formidable 1-2 punch with American import Lindsey Vander Weide.

With the two taking charge, the Angels managed to defend their throne and claim their second consecutive title after sweeping the best-of-three finals series against Cignal.

“So ‘yung kay Cheng, personally ‘yung goal ko na bigyan siya ng chance ulit dito sa ganitong conference, dahil kailangan namin maging malalaki lahat,” Ricafort said when asked about Cheng’s resurgence this conference.

“So, 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.

For her part, Cheng was just glad to finally have the opportunity to play and win the championship once again with his family. Moreover, she thanked Saet for guiding her throughout the conference.

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“Masaya kasi parang ano eh, dito lang ako sa team na ‘to magkaka-champion. I mean, ang dami ko ng lipat, tapos bumabalik at bumabalik pa rin talaga dito. So, isa sa happy place ko ‘tong team,” said Cheng.

“Um, siguro ano, naging mabilis siya kasi nga, ‘di ba 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-adjustan namin ng mabilis,” he added.

Cheng was nothing but impressive during the Reinforced Conference, averaging 4.23 excellent sets per set in the elimination round behind Best Setter awardee Jia De Guzman of Creamline.

The two-time NCAA Best Setter turned it up a notch in the finals, dishing out 18 excellent sets in Petro Gazz’s Game One win before turning in 26 excellent sets in Game Two to close out the HD Spikers.

“Masaya na nakuha ulit ‘yung championship. Siguro, ang pinaka nangingibabaw kasi sa akin ‘yung pahinga ngayon.”

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