Defending champion Petro Gazz opened its title-retention bid with a tight straight-set win over Choco Mucho, 27-25, 25-22, 28-26 in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference, Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena.
Lindsey Vander Weide dropped 25 points on 20 attacks, three kill blocks, and two aces in her Angels debut.
The American import received ample support from the locals. Jonah Sabete put up a great all-around performance of 14 points, 14 excellent digs, and 11 receptions. Meanwhile, Myla Pablo and MJ Phillips contributed eight points each.
Djanel Cheng tossed 19 excellent sets, alongside two points. Bang Pineda collected 18 digs and 14 receptions.
“Hindi na namin naisip e, actually, yung title defense. Mas priority namin yung coming from last conference na medyo bad performance, [is] to improve ngayong season,” said newly-installed Petro Gazz head coach Rald Ricafort.
“Siguro blessing na rin na we had them as our last game sa last conference. So yung review, yung pag-aral, ‘di ganun kalayo yung inaral ulit. Na-refresh lang ulit, nag-add lang ulit yung sa threat ni import,” he added.
After taking the first two sets, the Angels used a 9-0 run to turn an early 7-10 disadvantage into a 16-10 lead. Odina Aliyeva and Des Cheng answered back with a five-to-nothing rally to make it a one-point game.
Both squads found themselves in a 26-all deadlock after Maika Ortiz scored on a runner. Unfortunately, Aliyeva committed consecutive service and attack errors which gave Petro Gazz the victory.
Aliyeva finished with a game-high 26 points on top of 13 excellent receptions. Meanwhile, Cheng finished with a triple-double of 10 points, 13 receptions, and 10 digs in the loss.
On the other hand, Kat Tolentino was held to just seven points. Deanna Wong only had nine excellent sets with three points in their Reinforced Conference debut.
Petro Gazz will take on Creamline on Tuesday at 5:30 PM. Meanwhile, Choco Mucho will face F2 Logistics on Thursday also at 5:30 PM.