Games on Tuesday
2:30 p.m. – Chery Tiggo vs PLDT
5:30 p.m. – Creamline vs Petro Gazz
Creamline and Petro Gazz get the chance to test each other’s mettle again so early in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference following their Open title duel, facing off in today’s (Tuesday) second elims playdate at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Chery Tiggo also goes all-out against PLDT in a bid to rebound from a straight-set setback to Choco Mucho in last Saturday’s inaugurals of the league’s mid-season conference where seven teams fight it out for the top four berths in a single round robin elims.
The qualifiers will be joined by Japan and Taiwan in the next round in what promises to be a slam-bang phase leading to the championship.
The star-studded Cool Smashers swept the Angels in the first conference finals to nail their first pro crown after being foiled by the Crossovers in the league’s pro inaugurals under the bubble setup in Ilocos Norte last year.
And Michelle Gumabao’s return only makes Creamline’s roster all the more formidable with Alyssa Valdez, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza. Celine Domingo, Kyle Negrito, Jeanette Panaga, Risa Sato and Rose Vargas, along with ace player Jia Morado-De Guzman, Kyla Atienza and Ella de Jesus all ready and eager to launch another successful title campaign.
But the Angels are also coming into their 5:30 p.m. match brimming with confidence, plunging into deep training during the break and keen on getting back at their fancied rivals behind Nicole Tiamzon, Jonah Sabete, MJ Phillips, Aiza Pontillas, Remy Joy Palma, Seth Rodriguez, Marian Buitre, Djanel Cheng, Shiela Pineda, Cienne Cruz, Relea Saet, and former league MVP Myla Pablo.
Top hitter Grethcel Soltones, however, remains far from being in her top form as she continues to recover from a knee injury she sustained that hampered their title drive in the Open Conference.
“With an intact lineup, we focused on the players’ conditioning during the break and we hope Grethcel will be able to fully recover this conference,” said Petro Gazz’s Arnold Laniog, who still picks Creamline as the team to beat this conference.
“They’ve been together for so long and they’re always up there. But the round-robin format gives all the teams the chance,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Crossovers and the PLDT High Speed Hitters tangle in the 2:30 p.m. opener with the former hard-pressed to recover from a loss with a depleted roster against a healthy, new-look PLDT side itching to kick off its campaign on a winning note.
“We’re looking forward to this conference with a revamped squad. But hopefully, we’ll be spared of injuries and stay healthy throughout,” said PLDT middle hitter/blocker Mika Reyes.
Backing her up are Jovie Prado, Toni Rose Basas, Rhea Dimaculangan, Joy Soyud, Dell Palomata, Heather Guino-o, Kathleen Arado, Fiola Ceballos, Jessey de Leon, Julianne Samonte, Mae Santos, Wendy Semana, Nieza Viray, Maye Llavao and Mary Anne Mendrez.
Despite their fumbling start, Chery Tiggo coach Clarence Esteban remains confident of his wards’ resiliency although Mylene Paat, Shaya Adorador, Maika Ortiz, Jasmine Nabor, Joy Dacoron, Mae Layug, May Luna, Julia Angeles and Czarina Carandang will have to double their efforts to slow down the High Speed Hitters and get into the winning act.
Games are aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD). Both channels are also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.
Matches can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website pvl.ph.
All the games will be played at the San Juan venue except for the July 23 playdate that will pit Creamline against Choco Mucho at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.