MANILA, Philippines—Petro Gazz gave new coach Timmy Sto. Tomas a winning pro debut after sweeping debuting Galeries, 25-11, 26-24, 25-22, in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday evening at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Grethcel Soltones powered the Angels with a game-high 19 points on top of 14 digs and 10 receptions as they staved off the challenge of the newest PVL team in the last two sets before prevailing in an hour and 34 minutes.
“We still lack a lot of things that coach Timmy wants us to do. It should be a simple volleyball but we made it hard for ourselves,” said Soltones in Filipino after dropping 17 attacks, one ace, and a block.
After a dominant opening set, the Angels needed to fight back from a 20-22 deficit in the second set as Dimdim Pacres came off the bench and provided the energy for the Highrisers. A couple of errors allowed Petro Gazz to take the set point, 24-23, but Pacres saved a point only for Carly Hernandez to miss her serve followed by Ranya Musa’s set-clinching hit for a 2-0 advantage.
The Angels pulled away in the third with a 17-10 margin but the Highrisers leaned on Roma Joy Doromal and Audrey Paran to cut it down to three, 23-20. Marian Buitre stopped the bleeding to reach match point, 24-20, before Anne Esguerra and Paran saved two points.
However, Soltones refused to extend the game as she ended it with a massive kill.
“I’m very happy that we were able to get the win despite having difficulties during the second to the third set of the game. They were able to step up during the latter part of the match,” said Sto. Tomas.
“The pressure is always there but I’m lucky to have these kinds of players (Aiza Maizo-Pontillas), Grethcel, Chie (Saet), Djanel Cheng, so the whole bunch is very supportive of one another. That’s our culture.”
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas chipped in 10 points, while Jonah Sabete and KC Galdones added 10 markers with setter Djanel Cheng dishing out 15 excellent sets.
No one from Galeries scored in double figures as Paran had eight points, while Doromal, Esguerra, and Raprap Aguilar added seven markers each.
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