While first semifinalist and unbeaten Cignal HD could go slow against winless Petro Gazz and avoid risking injuries to key players, expect Army and Chery Tiggo to do whatever it takes to nail the win in a crucial Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference face-off at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan City Tuesday.
The mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision heads to its final single round robin elims week with one team assured of a spot in the next phase, two guaranteed of at least a playoff for the last berth and three staying in the hunt, guaranteeing a wild chase for the last seat in the last three playdates capped by a busy three-game schedule on Saturday.
The Lady Troopers, led by Jovelyn Gonzaga, Joanne Bunag, Jeanette Villareal and Nene Bautista, could clear up the semis race with a victory over Chery Tiggo in their 2:30 p.m. clash but the Crossovers, behind Shaya Adorador, EJ Laure, Mylene Paat and Grace Carandang, set out for the match with new-found confidence following a three-set win over a hapless Petro Gazz side in Sta. Rosa, Laguna last Thursday. The victory revived the first pro league champions’ slims hopes after dropping their first three matches.
In contrast, the veteran-laden Army squad is reeling from a four-set defeat to a resurgent PLDT Home Fibr at the SM MOA Arena last Saturday, dropping the Lady Troopers to 2-2 at solo fourth with idle Choco Mucho and Chery Tiggo just behind with 1-3 slates.
Cignal has secured the first semis slot with a four-set win over Creamline last Thursday but the Cool Smashers struck back with a sweep of their sister team Choco Mucho Flying Titans at the MOA arena last weekend, putting them in step with the High Speed Hitters at 3-1.
Petro Gazz, meantime, is all but out of the race with four straight losses but a reversal over Cignal in their 5:30 p.m. clash could set the stage for a wilder battle for the last semis seat if Army, Choco Mucho and Chery Tiggo won’t go over two wins.
But the HD Spikers are primed for another victory, seeking to stretch their streak while hoping to stay healthy for the tough battle ahead where the KingWhale squad from Taiwan and the Kobe Shinwa team from Japan will spice up the semis battle, also a single round robin phase.
The top two teams will then dispute the crown in a winner-take-all match.
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.
Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos, who continued to draw big games from Ces Molina, Rachel Anne Daquis, Chay Troncoso, Roselyn Doria, Ria Meneses and playmaker Gel Cayuna, is expected to try on new combinations while hoping to keep his wards’ competitive fire when they face the PLDT 6 this weekend.
Counterpart Arnold Laniog, on the other hand, will be hard-pressed as he tries to draw the best from his starters, led by Myla Pablo, Grethcel Soltones, Nicole Tiamzon, Aiza Pontillas, MJ Phillips and Remy Palma, and get the needed breaks.
Games today (Tuesday)
2:30 p.m. – Army vs Chery Tiggo
5:30 p.m. – Petro Gazz vs Cignal