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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Angels, Cool Smashers eye big Final 4 starts

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PetroGazz and Creamline hope to live up to the hype as they take on rivals they have dominated on their way to topping the elims at the start of the semifinal round of the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today.

First to see action at 3 p.m. are the Cool Smashers, who step up their title-retention drive against the PacificTown Army Lady Troopers, whom they swept via 3-0 and 3-1 romps in the double-round elims.

The Angels also posted the same scorelines in driving past the BanKo-Perlas Spikers in the qualifiers of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa, Asics and KFC, making them the favorites to score a repeat in their 5 p.m. encounter.

PetroGazz and Creamline actually emerged tied at 9-1 after the elims but the former took the top seeding with a higher tiebreak score and drew No. 4 BanKo-Perlas in the crossover semis, a pair of best-of-three affairs.

But given the Angels and the Cool Smashers’ form and powerhouse rosters, the Perlas Spikers and the Lady Troopers will need more than firepower, defense and luck to overcome their Final Four rivals and crash the championship picture.

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Ranged against Thai power hitter Kuttika Kaewpin and Ale Blanco of Venezuela and local aces Alyssa Valdez, Michelle Gumabao, Risa Sato, Jema Galanza, Pau Soriano, Jia Morado and Melissa Gohing, the Lady Troopers hope to draw solid games from reinforcements Olena Lymareva-Flink and Jenelle Jordan and their crew of local veterans headed by Jovelyn Gonzaga, Nene Bautista and MJ Balse-Pabayo.

Cuban Wilma Salas and American Janisa Johnson, two of the league’s top four scorers after the elims, are expected to double their effort along with locals Jeanette Panaga, Steph Mercado, Cherry Nuñag, Djanel Cheng, Jessey de Leon and Maricar Baloaloa although they remain wary of the Perlas Spikers.

Thai Sutadta Chuewulim, who took over Kia Bright’s spot midway through the elims, is expected to prove her true worth in the series together with fellow reinforcement Yasemin Yildirim with focus also on local aces Nicole Tiamzon and fellow former UP stalwart Kathy Bersola, Sue Roces and Jem Ferrer.

Salas and Johnson actually emerged as the top spikers with 47 percent and 46.22 percent success, respectively, while Bersola and Yildirim topped the blocking department with 0.78 and 0.68 average per set, making their clash a duel of hitting and blocking.

PacificTown Army, on the other hand, is tops in digging which the Lady Troopers hope to re-display against a slew of Creamline hitters, led by Kaewpin, Blanco, Valdez, Gumabao and Galanza.

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