Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort expects his wards to flash their killer’s instinct anew as the Angels brace for a big Cignal fightback in Game 2 of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals at the Philsports Arena in Pasig Tuesday.
Coming out better and stronger from a near-disastrous slip in the final day of the semis, the Angels hacked out a tough 25-21, 27-25, 37-35 decision over the HD Spikers last Thursday to move a win away from sweeping their way back to the throne of the import-laced conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
Gametime is at 5:30 p.m. with the Angels eager to finish off the HD Spikers behind their big-hitting import Lindsey Vander Weide and a fired-up local crew headed by Myla Pablo, MJ Phillips, Aiza Pontillas, Remy Palma and ace playmaker Djanel Cheng.
“Siguro ‘yung lesson lang sa amin against Cignal, nabitawan naming ‘yung third set doon. Mawala ‘yung complacency na kapag naka-dalawang set na kami, may chance na mag-off nang kaunti,” said Ricafort after steering the Angels to the title series’ opening win.
He was referring to his wards’ third set meltdown, also against the HD Spikers, in the last Final Four duel last week that had them sweeping the first two sets and moving a hit away from returning to the Finals after storming to a 24-21 lead in the third frame.
But Cignal import Tai Bierria willed her team back into the match with a cluster of hits and the HD Spikers forced a fourth set before eventually yielding the match.
But Cignal went on to clinch the first finals slot with a better tiebreak score than Petro Gazz, which, however, got a free ride to the title playoff after Chery Tiggo spoiled Creamline’s bid in the other semis duel.
The Angels also took the first two sets in Game One, but this time, they toughened up in a nerve-wracking third set while relying on Vander Weide’s fierceness to pound out the victory.
And Ricafort demands nothing short of a stronger showing from the Angels in today’s clash and avoid going through a winner-take-all match where momentum could shift to the other side.
Still, the HD Spikers know they have the materials to stop the Angels, particularly after dragging the 2019 champions to three close sets in their first foray in a PVL championship.
But they have to come up with an antidote to Vander Weide or at least slow her down and at the same try to start out strong in what promises to be another spirited clash of power, blocks, digs and smarts.
Bierria has thrived coming off the bench and finishing strong, but this time, the HD Spikers, led by local aces Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria, Chay Troncoso, Angeli Araneta, Rachel Anne Daquis and Riri Meneses, could start her out in an attempt to build some kind of a drive that would keep the Angels on the defensive and keep them in the gold medal hunt.
Meanwhile, Creamline also goes for a sweep of the bronze against Chery Tiggo at 2:30 p.m.
Games are aired on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play and Smart Gigaplay with hashtag #TheHeartofVolleyball.