ILOILO CITY — In front of a roaring crowd at the University of San Agustin Gymnasium here, Remy Palma stepped up and steadied the Petro Gazz ship during the tight second set in the Angels’ straight sets victory over Chery Tiggo in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference.
After taking the first set, Palma hammered a running attack that kick-started a 4-0 Petro Gazz rally late in the second frame which allowed them to zoom to a huge 24-17 advantage.
The Angels, however, fell off track after a miscommunication on the receive which led to a yellow card being called on Jonah Sabete, who tried to plead her case with the officials. The Crossovers saved a total of seven match points — five of which came from Petro Gazz’s unforced errors — and eventually tied the game at 24-all.
With Chery Tiggo on the verge of a massive comeback, Palma served as the team’s calming presence and rallied them back into the game.
The Far Eastern University standout told her teammates to block the noise coming from the 6,286 fans inside the venue and urged them to move on from the string of errors before breaking the 24-all deadlock with a quick hit while the rest of Petro Gazz finished it off, 28-26.
“Actually ano, parang nagsalita ako doon sa huddle na sabi ko, tapangan lang natin. Kasi, ayun nga, nagpabaya kami ng ilang puntos. Ang dami naming error na binigay. Lapses namin ‘yun eh, so dapat kami mag-punan doon sa lapses na ginawa namin,” the 27-year-old Palma said just moments after the win.
“And siguro, mas lumabas din talaga ‘yung maturity ng team, na when it comes sa mga dikitan na situation, hindi kami pwedeng basta na lang bumitaw. Bibitaw, na parang after namin pinagtrabahuhan ‘yung one to 24, tapos sa dulo, parang doon kami maggi-give up? ‘Yun talaga ‘yung pinaka wino-work out namin every time.”
Palma tallied 12 points as the Angels completed what they started and bagged a 25-21, 28-26, 25-21 win to eliminate the Crossovers from semis contention and clinch the second seed in the standings.
Grethcel Soltones top scored with 14 points on 10 attacks, three aces, and a block while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and MJ Phillips added 13 and 10 points, respectively, to help Petro Gazz end the eliminations with a 6-2 card.
“Tapos, ayun, thankfully binigay sa amin ‘yung second set kasi nga, medyo tumaas talaga ‘yung momentum ng Chery,” said the 5-foot-10 middle blocker.
“Nakita naman natin na tinrabaho talaga nila para makadikit doon sa score. Kudos talaga doon sa effort din nila. So kami din siyempre, parang kasi nga ako ‘yung gusto ko talaga, manalo talaga eh. Kaya gagawin ko din talaga ‘yung best ko para makuha ‘yung game today,” she added.
For her part Palma, who admitted that the team got overwhelmed by the massive crowd inside the USA Gym, said that she just wanted the Angels to be at their best and give the Ilonggos a show to remember.
“Actually until now sobrang overwhelmed pa din ako. Kasi parang ang laki ng crowd, lahat ng tao talaga nag-effort para makapunta dito,” said the former Petron standout.
“So ako naman, personally ‘yung mindset ko talaga is to give back. To give back for the people here na ‘yung expectations talaga nila na to play our best, to do our best every game.”