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PVL: Petro Gazz ends four-year skid vs Creamline, nears All-Filipino crown

After almost four years, Petro Gazz finally scored a victory against the mighty Creamline.

The Angels stunned the Cool Smashers in four sets, 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 26-24, to snap a 14-game losing streak and bag Game One of the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference finals at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday night.

Petro Gazz can clinch the title on Tuesday, 6:30 at the same Pasay venue.

It was a long, hard-fourth match for Petro Gazz, who banked on a net touch challenge late in the fourth set to successfully fend off the reigning All-Filipino champions.

The Angels pulled away in the latter part of the fourth set with a service error coming from Michele Gumabao giving them a 24-21 advantage.

However, Tots Carlos pumped life into Creamline with a cross court attack before Jema Galanza converted two consecutive attacks to save a total of three match points and tie the game at 24-all.

MJ Phillips answered back with a quick hit to give her side a one-point, 25-24 edge.

Grethcel Soltones then went up for an attack and was met by Jia De Guzman and Ced Domingo up top. That’s when Petro Gazz head coach Oliver Almadro decided to call the game-winning challenge that put them ahead in the series.

“Well, we’re not thinking, again, about the one win away. We just have to do our job, we just have to prepare, and we have to manage ourselves not to be overwhelmed. Not too frustrated, not too overwhelmed. We have to be consistent,” said Almadro after the win.

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Despite battling cramps throughout the fourth set, Jonah Sabete still delivered a game-high 18 points on 16 attacks and two blocks to go along with 15 excellent receptions and 10 excellent digs to help the Petro Gazz franchise inch closer to its first All-Filipino Conference title – their third overall.

Aiza Maizo-Pontillas added 15 points while Grethcel Soltones and Phillips chipped in 14 apiece with Soltones finishing with 17 digs as well.

“So sabi nga namin, we will breathe properly, kasi tapos na ‘yung isang game. But hindi pa tapos ‘yung series. So sabi nga nila, pinaka-mahirap to get the series. But, I’m happy with what my players did. They are composed. They showed character towards the endgame, and they really helped each other and trusted each other,” added Almadro.

Leading by just one in the opener, 23-22, the Angels managed to fend off the Cool Smashers after Ced Domingo committed an attack error which was then followed up by an off the block hit by Sabete that put Petro Gazz ahead, 1-0.

The Angels once again found themselves ahead late in the second set, 23-22, but it was a different story this time around as Jema Galanza converted a cross court hit while Michele Gumabao blocked Soltones to push Creamline at match point.

Djanel Cheng kept Petro Gazz alive with a push but consecutive errors from Remy Palma and Soltones allowed the Cool Smashers to tie the game at 1-all.

In the third frame, the Angels overcame a slow start that saw them trail, 1-6, before racing to a 23-21 advantage after Jeanette Panaga’s attack sailed out. Galanza and Gumabao powered a quick 3-1 turnaround but a crucial net touch violation called on Tots Carlos put an end to Creamline’s comeback attempt.

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Galanza and Gumabao each poured 18 points for the Cool Smashers in the loss. The former had 15 digs and seven excellent receptions as well.

Carlos had 17 markers which include three aces while Domingo had 14 points.

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